Seeds, Pesticides and Mechanization – HYV, Indian Seed Congress, etc.

Jul, 17, 2018

[op-ed snap] Making crop insurance work for Indian farmers


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | e-technology in the aid of farmers

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie)

Mains level: Use of ICT in agriculture and allied activities


Crop damage by changing weather

  1. In recent months, several places in north India experienced unseasonal dust and thunderstorms, followed by unseasonal rains
  2. This has cost lives and led to extensive crop damage
  3. With freak weather events becoming more common, protection of farmers against these risks figures prominently in the government’s agricultural policy

Agriculture sector impact

  1. Mitigating risk in the agricultural sector has a direct implication for agricultural productivity and farmer welfare
  2. It also intersects with some of the key sustainable development goals (SDGs), such as ending poverty, achieving food security and curbing hunger

Using technology in agriculture

  1. The International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) has funded a number of studies that explore the feasibility of using ICTs in the field of agricultural risk mitigation
  2. A 3ie-funded study conducted by researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute demonstrates how to capitalize on the availability of low-cost internet and the rising use of smartphones
  3. The novel picture-based insurance (PBI) product welds technology with weather index based insurance (WBI)
  4. Farmers are asked to take pictures from the same site with the same view frame two to three times a week throughout the cropping season. The series of images thus created helps insurance agencies examine the condition of the crops
  5. Based on the assessment, payments for losses are directly issued to the farmers’ bank accounts
  6. Additionally, the application also provides customized agricultural advisory to farmers by experts, ensuring continual interaction
  7. Another study by the Centre for Budget and Policy Studies (CBPS) examines the PMFBY in Karnataka, which incorporates the use of mobile technology to record and upload the crop-cutting experiments (CCE), a mechanism to determine the overall yield of the village
  8. The use of ICT is expected to quicken compilation of data, verification and faster settlement of a claim

Other benefits of ICT

  1. The use of mobile-based technology can also help allied activities
  2. ICTs can address not only supply side and process-related bottlenecks but also influence behaviour change on the demand side
  3.  For example, ICTs such as the PBI that require farmers to participate may induce farmers to develop a vigilant attitude towards any loss of crop
  4. Formative and process evaluations of ICT-based programmes, usually done at the beginning of a programme spanning over a few months, can help policymakers take prompt programme-specific decisions
  5. By identifying various challenges, such evaluations can lead to better programme selection and design that are cost-effective

Way Forward

  1. Impact evaluations that are based on counterfactuals with a large sample size, and conducted over a longer period, can surely inform scaling up and replicability of such programmes
  2. And in turn, the resultant socioeconomic impact will help farmers across India
Aug, 19, 2016

Can’t avoid pesticides, say farm experts

  1. Context: Parliament’s Standing Committee on Agriculture may have expressed concern at the unscientific and excessive use of pesticides in agriculture that pose a threat both to the environment and human health
  2. Experts: Judicious use of pesticides, combined with safe agricultural practices, is the only way out as the country’s growing demand for food cannot be met through organic farming
  3. Need for scientific use: Human health and food safety, both are important, and therefore there is an imperative need for promoting scientific use of pesticides in agriculture
  4. Organic: Relying entirely on organic farming is not a practical solution, as we need to feed a growing population
  5. Awareness: Educating the farmers and agriculture labourers for minimizing the use of pesticides and strengthening our agriculture research and extension system is the need of the hour
Aug, 15, 2016

Parliamentary committee pitches for better pesticide regulation

  1. Report: Impact of chemical fertilizers and pesticides on agriculture and allied sectors in the country by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture
  2. The problems associated with unscientific and excessive use of pesticides have not been addressed properly by the Central and the State governments
  3. And also, a system for registration of pesticides does not address the systemic deficiency
  4. Recommended a review of the Insecticides Act, 1968, as the pesticide sector needs better regulation to safeguard the environment and public health
  5. Insecticides Act, 1968: Regulates import, manufacture, sale, transport, distribution and use of insecticides to prevent risk to human beings or animals
  6. Central Insecticides Board: Constituted under the Insecticides Act
  7. It is empowered to ban manufacture, import or sale of pesticides if concerns are raised about a threat to public health and safety or any adverse report is received about the toxic effect of any pesticide
  8. However, there is no provision for periodic scientific evaluation of pesticides used in the country and the Central Insecticides Board doesn’t carry out any research or study on its own
  9. Also, its advice to the government is based on national and international literature or information available
  10. Ban: The action for ban of particular pesticides is taken only after receipt of general information on the ban on, or restriction of, particular pesticides in other countries.
  11. A ban is based on the recommendation of a committee of experts constituted for the purpose
  12. The present system of registration of pesticides is not robust and does not address manipulation of systemic deficiency
  13. Absence of an ongoing mechanism for periodic evaluation of the efficacy and toxicity of pesticides is posing danger to the environment and public health
  14. Govt take steps for the constitution of a pesticides development and regulation authority after parliamentary approval for regulation of the pesticide sector in the country
  15. It should start discussions with all stakeholders for constitution of such an authority in a time-bound manner
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