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How to make Indian farming `sexy’ sensing its soul, Auto News, ET Auto

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  Escorts Tractors and an entrepreneur in the space of farm mechanisation
Escorts Tractors and an entrepreneur within the area of farm mechanisation

By- Avik Chattopadhyay

Discover the title offensive? You shouldn’t, for farming, or agriculture, in India is an economic activity that’s neither revered, nor aspirational. It’s also not economically viable and nonetheless is the final resort of the unemployed. It must be trendy, aspirational, revered and massively interesting, as quickly as doable. Due to this fact, the title!

In November 2014, I met Shri Rohtash Mal, ex managing director of Escorts Tractors and an entrepreneur within the area of farm mechanisation by way of “customized hiring centres”. I had the pleasure of working with him constructing his model “Samadhan” in Rajasthan. What made you permit a comfortable company job and enter this area, I requested him, early on in our engagement. “To make Indian farming attractive”, he stated.

Nearly eight years later, on September 28, 2022, I attended the ETAuto Farm Equipment Summit. Sitting attentively by way of the assorted classes on know-how, product excellence and operational effectivity, the session that actually woke me up was the one by Dr C.R. Mehta of ICAR. He took us by way of a journey of how the fitting know-how must be adopted to assist the farmer on the floor degree. This was about “buyer intimacy”, past product, know-how and effectivity. This was about really empathising with the farmer quite than speaking to him from a pedestal. And I remembered Mr. Mal’s phrases!

Dr Mehta talked concerning the soul of farming. Everyone else was involved concerning the bodily points. And that’s precisely what’s incorrect about this exercise known as “farming” in India. Your entire eco-system across the farmer is just involved with supplying with bodily implements and digital interfaces. Nearly nobody invests any time in engaged on the emotional facet of farming, deeper than the tractor or rotavator into the psychological body of the individual utilizing them.

I consciously and intentionally use the time period “farming” and never “agriculture” right here. The latter is about rising crops, vegetables and fruit whereas the previous can be about flowers, fishes, poultry, livestock, bees and much more.

Some statistics to start out with

Farming employs round 45% of our working inhabitants and offers livelihood to 55% of the inhabitants. But it contributes solely 18% to our GDP. And the workforce engaged in farming is regularly lowering because the chart under exhibits.

About 146 million landholdings interact a workforce of 263 million individuals, implying that roughly 1.8 individuals per farm. I’m not clear if this consists of the contract and sharecroppers who return to their ‘houses’ a couple of times a yr for harvesting and extra incomes over their metropolis jobs. What’s of significance is that 99 million of the landholdings [68%] are lower than 1 hectare [10,000 square metres / 2.47 acres].

Forty-three per cent of our complete land is arable vis-à-vis simply 11% as a world common. This makes us one of the vital fertile elements of the world for occasions immemorial justifying why so many races, tribes and faiths needed to cool down right here.

 Sources: Dr CR Mehta, Director – ICAR; MOSPI - Statista
Sources: Dr CR Mehta, Director – ICAR; MOSPI – Statista

How to make Indian farming `sexy’ sensing its soul

Some myths to bust

Delusion #1 – the contribution of farming to GDP is dropping. Many people really feel that this sector shouldn’t be worthwhile sufficient to place deal with and subsidise when required. Effectively, if electric vehicles may be subsidised being a brand new development, so can farming and farm mechanisation.

How to make Indian farming `sexy’ sensing its soul

This chart from MOSPI / Statista exhibits that the GVA has been rising yearly. Due to this fact the main focus and monetary help is definitely bringing returns on the funding. Provided that the degrees of mechanisation may be extra, the productiveness can be increased particularly from the marginal farmlands.

Delusion #2 – our farmers are usually not productive sufficient. They use archaic strategies and are usually not able to spend money on trendy applied sciences like different industries. Once more, a stereotype based mostly on pictures of farmers created in Indian films lingering from the Sixties.

How to make Indian farming `sexy’ sensing its soul

These two charts from an RBI Bulletin on Indian Agriculture launched in January 2022 present how productiveness has been rising apart from pulses and the Indian farmer is massively aggressive in comparison with one within the US, Ukraine and Canada, among the most mechanised farming markets on the planet. Apparently, international locations with decrease land holdings appear to be extra productive.

Delusion #3 – farming shouldn’t be trendy sufficient. Whereas the scenario in India shouldn’t be but perfect to make sure optimum output in opposition to the efforts put in, the common mechanisation degree throughout all main crops in 2020-21, as per ICAR, stands at a wholesome 47%. Guess some sectors like textiles, footwear and some extra ‘city’ jobs.

How to make Indian farming `sexy’ sensing its soul

Key crops like rice and wheat do see a excessive degree of mechanisation. If the laggards like cotton and sugarcane make progress, farming will see a lot increased ranges of productiveness.

As the following two charts present, since 2016 we’re seeing rising gross sales of equipment although the Covid interval information shouldn’t be but with us. Going by the gross sales of tractors in 2020, the development ought to be upwards for equipment as properly with a dip in 2022.

How to make Indian farming `sexy’ sensing its soul

Mechanisation, identical to car penetration, has fairly some option to go if we examine ourselves with Brazil. [Car penetration in India is at 26 per 1000 compared with 470 per 1000 in Brazil!]

So, what’s going to make farming attractive?

Given my expertise of getting carried out initiatives on this sector during the last seven years, I consider there are six particular steps that may assist remodel farming right into a occupation that’s interesting to the youthful era in addition to revered for the current farming neighborhood. Farming needs to be taken up as a occupation and never as a final resort, out of alternative and never out of compulsion.

1.Begin respecting the farmer

When was the final time the common Indian thought concerning the farmer? In the course of the Farm Legal guidelines agitation. They agitated on the borders of the hallowed nationwide capital and we trolled and demonised them over social media, tv and different digital platforms.

This neighborhood serves the nation as devoted and selfless because the soldier. I bear in mind a farmer in Kota telling me, “Solely when you don’t get your ‘roti’ in your dinner plate one evening will you bear in mind us…and even then you’ll solely curse us and never ask why the roti couldn’t attain you…”

The farmer asks for rights and safety simply as college students, troopers, industrial staff and docs do. Our mind-set has to vary in accepting them as social equals and never as vassals working for masters.

2.Cooperatives, collectives and CHCs

Given the predominance of marginal farms [below 1 hectare] the options need to be thought bottom-up. Typical top-down considering can’t work in India. We shunned cooperatives and collectives as old-world ‘leftist’ ideas. They’d failed not due to the precept however the corruption. Cooperatives have created the Indian dairy trade. They will remodel the remainder of farming too by integrating all of the marginal farms into collective plans and actions.

Customized hiring centres, due to this fact, are the necessity of the hour throughout the nation as bigger elements of our arable land are of low or very low productiveness. The CHCs will guarantee entry to world-class mechanisation and know-how to the small and marginal farmers.

How to make Indian farming `sexy’ sensing its soul

How to make Indian farming `sexy’ sensing its soul

Mr. Mal had projected the necessity for 250,000 CHCs throughout the nation in 2015. Other than personal entrepreneurs like him beginning Samadhan, tractor makers began their CHC networks like Mahindra’s Trringo and TAFE’s J-Farm. Some state governments have additionally taken up the duty themselves just like the Rythu Bharosa Kendras in Andhra Pradesh [plan of building 11,000 in total]. Use of mecnahisation by way of CHCs has improved the soya bean manufacturing within the arid belts of Maharashtra by 15%-17%. And there are millions of related proofs of efficiency throughout the nation.

3.“Atmanirbhar” built-in farming

When Hare Krishna Konar and Benoy Chaudhury began India’s first organised land reforms motion in 1967 in West Bengal, they realised that the small and marginal farmers needed to be given a template of built-in farming that features sources of sustainable earnings aside from climate-dependent crops and greens, like livestock, fishery, honey, poultry and in addition rudimentary meals processing. The success of “Operation Barga” created a blueprint for contemporary farming.

The ICAR has modernised the identical within the type of NICRA [National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture] from 2011. Mannequin NICRA villages are being arrange within the 100 most climatically weak districts in India. When the federal government talks of being “Atmanirbhar” as an economic system, it should have farming as an integral element of the nationwide mission and never solely the ‘fancier’ points of producing, IT and analysis.

4.Give attention to girls and SHGs

About 100 million girls are engaged in farming proper now and the quantity is projected to develop to 120 million by 2047. ICAR initiatives that there will probably be extra girls engaged in farming than males within the subsequent 25 years because the latter maintain shifting to the cities for city jobs whereas the womenfolk proceed with farming. This permits two earnings sources for a big a part of the Indian inhabitants.

As well as, the Self Assist Group motion has grown now to round 7.9 million teams participating greater than 86 million girls throughout rural India underneath the Nationwide Rural Livelihoods Mission as per authorities information [SHG Report (nrlm.gov.in)], led by West Bengal. This has been one in all India’s greatest achievements because the formation of SEWA by the famend social activist Smt. Ela Bhatt in 1972 in Ahmedabad.

Ladies will guarantee farming turns into sustainable, worthwhile, and progressive. This trade is greatest managed of their arms as they greatest perceive how one can make villages affluent.

5.Storage up, meals inflation down

The dearth of meals storage infrastructure even after 75 years of independence is one issue that cripples the farmer on the one hand forcing him / her to promote produce at below-cost charges and the malnourished then again to stay so.

 Source: RBI Bulletin on Indian Agriculture, January 2022
Supply: RBI Bulletin on Indian Agriculture, January 2022

The above chart exhibits the pathetic scenario of solely round 15% of all perishable manufacturing being saved correctly after 75 years of independence and planning. Solely 6 states our of 16 within the chart retailer greater than 10% of what they produce. Until this improves, farmer bankruptcies and suicides won’t ever see any discount. And that necessitates subsidies and big write-offs hurting the whole tax-paying inhabitants. The subsequent time you criticise farm subsidies, flip your deal with the politician-middleman nexus that by no means constructed a correct meals storage infrastructure.

The opposite issue that cripples the farmer is meals inflation. In actual fact, lack of storage and meals inflation work in tandem. Being overdependent on pure seasonal rain, any climatic disturbances and lack of storage disrupt the meals provide chain. The extra organised sectors like dairy, cereals and fruits see much less volatility in costs whereas the unorganised ones like greens, sugarcane and pulses play havoc with the price of residing. The charts under say the identical story.

 Source: RBI Bulletin on Indian Agriculture, January 2022
Supply: RBI Bulletin on Indian Agriculture, January 2022

6.Create nationwide recognition platforms

If the movie and sports activities fraternities and the defence forces can have their devoted nationwide awards, why not the farmers? Do we’ve a Rashtriya Krishi Samman? Can we also have a nationwide day for the farmers?

We solely do lip service once we say “Jai kisaan” however really want “Jaaye kisaan” [let the farmer get lost]. Principally, the remainder of the nation takes the farmer with no consideration and treats one on the backside of the socio-economic chain, accepted as poor, uneducated, disempowered and due to this fact to be left to at least one’s lot.

The federal government too shouldn’t be a lot better, by no means bringing the farmer to the forefront on nationwide platforms or creating particular ones for them.

Until the time the elemental respect for the farmer doesn’t develop, the act of farming is one which the farmer himself / herself will wish to run away from. And the youthful era within the villages will rush to the cities so as to add to the “gig economic system”.

India has been famously known as the “Sone ki chidiya” [bird of gold]. That was not as a result of this was a land of jewels and treasures buried within the floor. That was as a result of this land is likely one of the most fertile on the planet making certain golden crops for hundreds of years. Within the 1967 Hindi movie Upkaar, when Mahendra Kapoor sang, “Mere desh ki dharti sona ugle, ugle right here moti…” [this soil of my land produces gold, diamonds and pearls] he meant it!

Disclaimer:(The creator is co-creator of Expereal India. Additionally, he’s former head of selling, product planning and PR at Volkswagen India.)

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Supply: auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com

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