From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 3- Natural farming in India
In her budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman reaffirmed the Centre’s commitment to natural, chemical-free, organic and zero-budget farming.
No specific allocation in Budget
- No specific allocations have been made to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
- In fact, currently-operational schemes such as the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana and the National Project on Organic Farming did not find any mention in the budget.
- The Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, which has received a 4.2-times (year-on-year) larger allocation of Rs 10,433 crore, will earmark some funds for the on-ground implementation of chemical-free farming.
- As the ministry plans the fund utilisation under RKVY, here are eight suggestions to scale up chemical-free farming.
- 1] Focus on rainfed area: focus on promoting natural farming in rainfed areas beyond the Gangetic basin.
- Home to half of India’s farmers, rainfed regions use only a third of the fertilisers per hectarecompared to the areas where irrigation is prevalent.
- The shift to chemical-free farming will be easier in these regions.
- 2] Crop insurance: enable automatic enrolment of farmers transitioning to chemical-free farming into the government’s crop insurance scheme, PM Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).
- 3] Promote microenterprise producing inputs: promote microenterprises that produce inputs for chemical-free agriculture.
- An often-cited barrier by farmers in transitioning to chemical-free agriculture is the lack of readily available natural inputs.
- 4] Leverage NGOs: leverage NGOs and champion farmers who have been promoting and practising sustainable agriculture across the country.
- CEEW research estimates that at least five million farmers are already practising some form of sustainable agriculture and hundreds of NGOs are involved in promoting them.
- 5] Upskill workers: Beyond evolving the curriculum in agricultural universities, upskill the agriculture extension workers on sustainable agriculture practices.
- 6] Leverage community institution: Sixth, leverage community institutions for awareness generation, inspiration, and social support. In other words, the government should facilitate an ecosystem in which farmers learn from and support each other while making the transition.
- 7] support monitoring and impact studies: Such assessments would ensure an informed approach to scaling up sustainable agriculture.
- 8] Millet promotion: Dovetail the ambition on millet promotion with the aim to promote sustainable agriculture.
- Instead of the two remaining in silos, why not promote chemical-free millets and create awareness about both?
India’s food system needs a holistic transformation in demand, production, and supply chains. Let’s hope 2022-23 is the inflection point when we convert intent into action in our journey towards achieving a chemical-free food system.