Doubling the incomes of Karnataka farmers is a big project, but fraught with challenges – The New Indian Express


Express news service

BENGALURU: Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai recently announced that Karnataka would be the first state in the country to double farmers’ incomes. The projections are easier, the road to achieve it is strewn with pitfalls.

The BJP government led by Narendra Modi, who came to power at the Center in 2014, has set itself an ambitious goal of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2023-24, taking 2015-16 as the base year.

According to estimates by the Farmers’ Income Doubling Committee (DFI), the average annual income of farming households in Karnataka was 96,718 rupees in 2011-12, and increased to 1,54,399 rupees in 2015-16.

The target is now Rs 2,848,888 by 2023-24, with a focus on improving crop and livestock productivity, resource efficiency, savings on production costs, increased crop intensity, diversification towards high value-added crops and increased real prices received by farmers. .

The main challenge, according to a senior Agriculture Department official, is to put more emphasis on post-harvest practices. The focus will be on “secondary agriculture,” which means everything after harvest – aggregation, processing, branding, marketing and even exports, he says.

This means that the department, which mainly focuses on production, must take responsibility for helping farmers until agricultural products are marketed and farmers get a good price for them. “We have become almost self-sufficient in production, and millions of tonnes of food grains are stored in the stocks of the Food Corporation of India (FCI). Now, to increase farmers’ incomes, the focus must be on secondary agriculture, “said the official. outside.

“Regarding fruits and vegetables, almost 25-30% is wasted, and in food grains, the post-harvest loss is around 8-10%. This equates to almost Rs 95,000 crore of fruit. , vegetables and grains wasted across India. This must be stopped, “said the official.

With milk, the “post-harvest” loss is less than 1%, because there is a cold chain from production to consumer. But, in fruits and vegetables, which are perishable, losses are high due to the lack of proper system and infrastructure.

In many ways, the lack of robust postharvest infrastructure affects production. Gopal, president of the Hassan Wholesalers Association, said farmers would come forward to cultivate the land scientifically if the government provided proper market facilities and a minimum support price (MSP) for the produce, without which they would lose interest in agriculture.

The government buys a few crops at a minimum support price, when there is a large gap between production, supply and demand. Slaughtered farmers destroy standing crops on numerous occasions due to falling prices and are reluctant to proceed to the next harvest season, fearing further losses.

FALSE PLANNING NEED CORRECTION

The land allocated to food parks does not have road connectivity. “It’s almost like opening a garage on the second floor without accessing it,” said an official who is familiar with agro-infrastructure developments.

For example, the Prime Minister inaugurated a food park in Tumakuru in September 2014, which has still not started. Farmers in the area, and those in relatively remote places like Kolar and Hassan, expected the park to source their produce, but to no avail. Refrigeration installations remain underutilized.

Sudharshan, a young farmer from Srinivasapura in Kolar district, says there is no cold storage facility in Kolar district, which is the need at the moment. Hassan has five cold stores on the outskirts of the city, including a government facility with a storage capacity of 1,000 tonnes at Doddamandiganahalli on Sakleshpur Road. But, only potato and wholesale fruit merchants use these facilities.

In addition, the majority of cold stores are available for large farmers who are close associates of political leaders, and not for small landowners. There is a need to form agricultural clusters from adjacent villages and storage facilities developed accordingly.

Lack of infrastructure, such as adequate cold stores, is the main challenge in doubling farmers’ incomes, says Suresh Patil, dean, Agriculture College, Kalaburagi. “Inadequate storage facilities will force farmers to sell their produce immediately after harvest at prevailing market prices, which will inevitably be low,” he says.

Other challenges that farmers face are small and fragmented land holdings, lack of access to markets where they can get good prices, market fluctuations and lack of adequate mechanization, he says.

Kurubur Shanthakumar, president of the Karnataka Sugar Cane Producers Association, says the State Advisory Price (SAP) for sugar cane must be set by the government in time. Delaying it after the start of crushing sweets will have a negative effect.

“The government must also ensure that the sugar factories pay the farmers within 14 days of purchasing the crop and ensure that the transport costs are covered by the sugar factories,” he said, adding that these challenges must first be met.

There is a need for aggregators who will collect agricultural products at the village level and take them for processing. While primary processing can take place at the village level, secondary and tertiary processing should take place in large cities before the final product reaches the markets.

A lot of money is injected under the Pradhan Mantri program, sponsored by the central administration, to formalize micro-food processing enterprises and the One-District-One-Product (ODOP) program to promote processing units. , for which a 35% subsidy is granted for the creation of processing units. . But it is necessary to see it through the completion of the project and the implementation of the plan.

Farmers seem to ignore post-harvest technologies, processing, and appropriate markets and prices despite the millions of dollars the government has spent on different projects and programs. They only benefit from rented farm equipment, while they lack interest in domestic food-based industries or small industries using local by-products and products due to poor markets.

Prakash, a small agricultural industrialist in Hassan, says the government should give importance to domestic industries by expanding all the benefits to stimulate the local market.

BLUE COFFEE

Coffee growers are depressed due to falling prices. A series of demands from the coffee growers, including the waiver of interest on the crop loan, is pending before the Center. Since Kodagu is a major coffee producing district in Karnataka, Manu Somaiah, President of Karnataka Kodagu District Rajya Raitha Sangha, says the price of coffee beans has remained the same for the past 26 years.

“The first step in doubling the income of coffee growers is to declare MSP. However, the state failed to do so despite numerous requests from planters, ”he said. In addition, coffee growers do not receive free electricity for pump sets of up to 10 HP, he noted.

SEEDS FOR A PLAN

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai announced the establishment of a committee headed by Minister of Agriculture BC Patil to deal exclusively with all processes and post-harvest. Patil said The new Indian express that they are looking for secondary agricultural occupations such as dairy, fishing, sericulture, beekeeping and more. “We will encourage farmers to engage in traditional agriculture. This will help them earn additional income, ”he says.

To obtain better markets for the crops, the state government plans to start processing units with the help of producer and producer organizations (OPF). There are over 750 FPOs in Karnataka. “We basically look at each district for product processing. We have already provided a week-long training course to 500 farmers at the Central Institute for Technological Research in Food (CFTRI). It will be similar to public-private partnerships, where we involve farmers as private partners If 500 farmers come together investing Rs 1,000 per capita, it will amount to Rs 5 lakh and we will give this FPO a sum of Rs 10 lakh . We will help them get all the help they need, thus providing a market for their products, “said the minister.

The state government is also adopting modern technologies. “The government will provide subsidies to purchase modern equipment for harvesting. In addition, there is a provision for Rs 8 lakh per agricultural bank where a group of 20 farmers can apply. Under this, they can buy tractors. that, we empower them, “he says.

Regarding cold stores, Patil says there are 32 facilities in Karnataka. By the end of the fiscal year, they will add 10 more under the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). There is also a proposal for the establishment of cold stores by the Directorate of Horticulture to restore confidence to farmers.

Goal

  • Double farmers’ income by 2022-2023 (2016-17 to 2022-2023) with 2015-16 as the base year

  • According to estimates by the DFI (Doubling Farmers Income) / Committee, the average annual income of farming households in Karnataka was 96,718 rupees in 2011-12. It rose to Rs 1,54,399 in 2015-16

  • The target is now Rs 2,848,888 by 2022-2023

  • The average for all of India was Rs 70,118 in 2011-12, which rose to Rs 96,703 in 2015-16

Strategy

  • Improving the productivity of crops and livestock; efficient use of resources

  • Reduce production costs

  • Improved prices received by farmers

  • Focus on transformation, branding and marketing

  • Establishment of agro-processing units

Challenges

  • Cold storage facilities and other infrastructure, especially in rural areas

  • Guarantee a better price for the products because a good return does not necessarily mean a good price

  • Reduce input costs

(With contributions from Ramu Patil and Ashwini M Sripad in Bengaluru, Vincent D’Souza in Mangaluru, Karthik KK in Mysuru, Udaya Kumar BR in Hassan, Prakash Samaga in Udupi, V Velayudham in Kolar, Pramodkumar Vaidya in Hubballi, Prajna GR in Kodagu, Ramachandra Gunari in Shivamogga, Devaraj Hirehalli in Tumakuru and Ramkrishna Badseshi in Kalaburagi)

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