Adoption of new farming technologies by our farmers is relatively inadequate compared to China, which produces three times the output that India does, though the holding size is 44% less than India’s.This is because of lack of extension efforts at the village level. Extension workers in the train-and-visit system contributed significantly to the Green Revolution in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Now, farmers resort to sending pictures of pests and diseases on crops through WhatsApp, to seek solutions from scientists of agricultural universities and Krishi Vigyan Kendras. While mobile technology can complement the efforts of extension, it cannot substitute for village-level workers. While restructuring, this point needs to be considered.
Despite Covid-19, there was a 3 per cent increase in agriculture production in Karnataka, as farmers and Covid-affected migrant labour devoted considerable time and attention to their crops.However, the livestock sector, especially poultry, was affected due to fall in demand for meat, resulting in decreased demand for maize. Although the minimum sale price (MSP) for maize was fixed at Rs 1,850 per quintal, farmers received not more than Rs 1,200 per quintal. This is a classic case wherein though MSP was much above market price, the price realised was 35 per cent lower than the MSP.
Therefore, it is crucial to recognize that MSP alone or even with procurement, market price may not be higher if supply is more than demand. So farmers need to be educated on the appropriate crop pattern and area allocation for security in agriculture.Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken a very progressive step to introduce agriculture subjects from the primary education level.
There is also a dire need to clear pending cases such as permitting of GM crops like ‘Golden Rice’ to overcome Vitamin A deficiency in children and nursing women, hybrid mustard, clearing the moratorium on Bt brinjal and allowing field trials of GM varieties in many other crops, as they have been approved by competent and expert committees. It is equally important to prevent or avoid pseudo agricultural experts interfering by promoting their own non-scientific methods of production.
Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Agricultural Sciences