Notes on Agriculture for: Class 8, 9, 10 and for IAS Aspirants !
Introduction to Indian Agriculture:
India is having 329 million hectares of land area of which 143 million hectares is under cultivation. Despite all the natural advantages, India’s productivity of food grains per hectare is no more than three-fourths of the world average. Out of 29 states and 6 union territories, only five states in India, namely Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh – produce more grain than their populations can consume.
The combined population of the five states is less than one- third of the total of the country. Remaining two third of the population lives in 24 states and six union territories which are still food-deficit. This requires transport of lakhs of tones of food grain, involving high costs and pilferage. The effort should have been, to make all the states self-sufficient with respect to food grains. The growth rate of grain production during the ninth plan has been less than the population growth rate.
Per capita availability of grain and per capita calorie intake, which were less than the minimum required for adequate nutrition, have further declined. According to Human Development Report 2003, the percentage of the undernourished in India, has reached 24. The environmental status is though not alarming in comparison to developed countries, it gives an early warning to take appropriate precautionary measures. The main reason, for poor performance of the farm sector has been the adverse terms of trade policies for agriculturists in addition to the mismanagement of natural resources and lack of trained agriculture managers.
Agriculture today is diversified in so many areas and sub-areas which are not the same what it was two decades ago. It has shifted from subsistence to commercial activity, but faces enormous challenges including trained agriprenfeurs. Despite so many agricultural research, teaching and extension organizations, Indian agriculture is still treated as traditional or conventional.
It has placed unparallel demands on the capabilities and competence of human resources responsible for linking production with consumption vis a vis economic- environment equilibrium. Existing system of education, due to many limitations is not in a position to cater the rising demand for agri-business managers. Therefore, there is great need of agripreneurship development in the country.
Considering the scope of the topic, an attempt is made to delineate the agripreneurship, strengths to promote agripreneurship, supports, incentives and promoter of agripreneurship, key challenges for HRD skills, status of present day education, and institutions supporting agripreneurship.
Note # 2. Agriculture as a Way of Life, Business and Energy:
Agriculture is an important way of life in Australia, for about six per cent of the population is engaged in rural production. The farmer enjoys a certain amount of independence and a healthy outdoor life although there are also dangers in such things as driving tractors and using poisonous sprays.
Compared with other industries, most farm businesses are small and still depend on the family as a labour force. Although about six thousand new farm managers are needed each year, most young farmers do not have any special training after they leave school; they learn what they can from their fathers and friends and in other ways.
As knowledge about agriculture grows, the farmer depends more and more on large scale business and government organisations for the supply of capital, knowledge, agricultural services, supplies and marketing.
The farmer makes a living by selling his farm products. It costs a farmer money to produce what he sells. Some of these costs, like rates, rents and the cost of housing are fixed and occur every year.
Other costs, like fertiliser, labour, machinery and extra farm buildings are variable costs and depend on what the farmer decides to produce. The farmer makes a profit when the money he receives for selling his products—the output— is greater than the input—that is the money he has put into growing that product.
The size of the output depends on the price of a product and the amount produced. The price the farmer receives for his product depends on the laws of supply and demand. The price tends to fall if supply increases- that is, if too many farmers decide to grow a certain product. The price will also fall if there is a smaller demand for a product.
The farmer has to make a decision as to which crops or animals he will produce. He will tend to choose to grow a certain product if the ratio between input and output allows him to make a profit. The input/output ratio may change when some costs increase or decrease or when prices for some farm products rise or fall.
On a farm, light energy from the sun is converted into chemical energy contained in agricultural products. The first stage in this process occurs when green leaves change solar energy into chemical energy contained in the bodies of plants. But when animals eat green leaves, the chemical energy in plant material is changed into chemical energy in animal products.
In changing energy from one form into another on the farm, there is always some loss or wastage of energy at each stage. For example, much of the chemical energy contained in plants finds its way into the soil as the leaves drop off and the plants die.
Note # 3. Development of Irrigation:
Irrigation in India has been practised from ancient times and irrigation tanks and wells are a familiar feature of the Indian landscape to supplement and conserve the rainfall. Provision of water for cultivation had figured prominently, among the duties enjoined on the rulers of the land, who undertook the construction of irrigation works as benevolent works and many of the works of the ancient times owe their existence to the munificence of kings and philanthropists.
Ancient Indian civilization mostly developed in the river valleys which were well equipped with irrigation system, which helped in the growth of food crops and cotton. Vedas refer to avatar or water wells, kulya or Canal, and sarsi or dam indicating the fact that devices for irrigating land were already known. Manu mentions about tataka or artificial storage. Mahabharata contains indications of the practice of irrigation from wells, tanks, and canals.
Kautilya observed, “If privately managed dams are neglected for 5 years, their charge is taken over by the State. If they are constructed by public contribution, revenue is to be remitted for 5 years. If only repairs are carried out by public effort, revenue is to be remitted for 4 years.” Classical literature is replete with water courses—pranadi, kulya, nala, naliha, tilamaha, etc.
Artificial lakes and canals that dot the country in hundreds, are centuries old, and some of them have served for more than a thousand years. Megasthenes (4th century B.C.) mentions that the whole country is under irrigation and very prosperous because of the double harvests which they were able to reap each year because of irrigation.
“Storages and their water courses are common in South, Central and Eastern India. The first structure, a weir built in stone and clay, was probably laid in the 2nd century A.D. This Grand Anicut was built across the Cauvery, about 330 m. long. 12 to 18 m. wide and 4.6 to 5.5 m high. The ancient has serviced irrigation and withstood the annual Cauvery floods for more than 1600 years.” It was later remodelled by the Britishers in the 19th century.
During the Mughal Period:
Irrigation development received great attention during the Pre-Mughal and the Mughal periods. The Western Jamuna Canal (of Firoze Shah Tughlak) brought water to Delhi in the 14th century. It served as an irrigation canal in the tract it traversed. The Bari-Doab canal was executed by Ali Mardan Khan in the middle of the 17th century. The Eastern Jamuna canal was laid down in the reign of Mohammed Shah during the middle of 18th century.
During the British Period:
The British inherited a tradition of irrigation in India. The India Irrigation Commission of 1901-03 recorded, “Be this as it may, it is certain that it was the existence of the Grand Anicut in Madras, and the remains of old Mohammedan channels in the Punjab and United Provinces, which suggested and led to the construction of the earliest works carried on under British rule, India, therefore, in a great measure owes to her former rulers the first inception of the present unrivalled system of irrigation works.”
Initially, during the British period, Western Jamuna and Eastern Jamuna canals were renovated and remodelled followed by the construction of the Cauvery Delta system in conjunction with the Grand Anicut. A masonry weir across the Coleroon, was constructed in 1836. The Upper Ganga canal was commenced in 1842 and completed in 1854 by P. Coutlev. This was followed by other canals like the Lower Ganga, the Agra and the Betwa canals in U.P., the Sirhind canal in the Punjab, Muth canal in Bombay, and the Penyar canal in South India.
Other notable works were the weirs across the river Godawari near Rajamundry, and across the river Krishna near Vijayawada. Along with their canal systems they led to the irrigation of the fertile Godawari Krishna-Deltas. Occurrence of very serious famines towards the later part of the 19th century led to the development of the Indian irrigation commission in 1901 to report on irrigation as protection against famines in India. This gave further impetus to irrigation projects, and led to a number of projects like the Triple Canal Project in the Punjab, the Godawari canal in Bombay and the Tribeni canal in Bihar.
Further works were taken up after the First World War, notable example being the Mettur, Nizamsagar and Krishna Raja-Sagar projects, the Periyar canal, the Khadakvasla storage dam, Pravara and Nira canal in the South and the Ganga canal and the Sarda canal in the north. Besides these major systems, a large number of medium and small irrigation works like tanks and canals were also constructed all over the country. This led to substantial increase in irrigation and food production.
During the depression of 1930’s and the Second World War, little development took place in the field of irrigation. The partition of the country resulted in major irrigated areas going to Pakistan. Partition resulted in a substantial reduction in the proportion of irrigated area to 20 per cent of the cultivated area. On the eve of Independence there were 22.6 m. hectares receiving irrigation, which constituted 24 per cent of the net cultivated area in undivided India.
Of the total volume of water carried by the canals, in undivided India, the canals in Pakistan received 81,400 m.cu.m. of water against 11,000 m.cu.m. of water used by India in the Indus basin. In terms of irrigated area about 8 m. hectares of land went to the share of Pakistan, against only about 2 m. hectares left in India. This further necessitated the growth of irrigation potential.
Note # 4. Defects of India’s Agrarian Structure:
The main defects of India’s agrarian structure, according to the Planning Commission, have been:
(i) The existence of a large number of intermediaries between the State and the cultivator.
(ii) The existence of a large proportion of land under tenancy system. The 1961 census revealed that about one-fourth of the cultivated land is under tenancy. In certain regions the incidence may be as high as 40 per cent. About one half was under Zamindari and other intermediary system.
(iii) Insecurity of tenure among small cultivators due to indebtedness, mortgages into possession, and absence of ownership rights which prevented the cultivator from effecting permanent improvement on land; and sub-leases in raiyatwari and zamindari areas, which were oral and terminable at will.
(iv) A high rate of rent which leaves little incentive to cultivators to produce more particularly in case of crop-sharing;
(v) Small and fragmented holdings disabling improvements in techniques of cultivation;
(vi) Uneven distribution of land which leaves a large section of the rural population either without any land or with holdings too small for profitable cultivation;
(vii) Excessively low yield per hectare and prevalence of poverty; agricultural sector; and
(viii) Lack of effective organisation for the completely disorganised peasantry at the village level.
According to the U.N.O. Report, the present agrarian system acts as a powerful obstacle to economic development in three ways. Firstly, the tenant has little incentive to increase his output since a large share accrues to the landowner who incurs no cost. Secondly, very small margin is left with the actual cultivator and this amount is quite insufficient to provide for capital investment on the land. Thirdly, it means that wealth is held in the form of land, and that the tenants secure no benefit of working with better equipment or with better seed.
In a word, under the present agrarian system, the landlords grow richer, the intermediaries continued to flourish, the State was deprived of his share of legitimate increase in revenue and the cultivator-tenant’s lived a hand to mouth existence.
When India became Independent it was faced with the problem of antiquated system of land ownership which it had inherited out of its history and it’s past. Many of these systems were unjust and oppressive, demanding high rents from farmers and destroying the incentives to improve farms and farm methods. Besides, there were gross inequalities in land ownership. Insecure tenures not only perpetuated the social and economic injustice, but also turned out to be formidable stumbling blocks in the path of modernisation of Indian agriculture.
A high-powered Committee with Shri J.L. Nehru as chairman reported in 1948 that “All intermediaries between the tiller and the state should be eliminated, and all middlemen should be replaced by non-project taking agencies…. Land should be held for use as a source of employment…. in the case of minors and the physically handicapped persons, a share of the produce of the land should be given to them … The maximum size of holdings should be fixed and the surplus land over such a maximum should be acquired and placed at the disposal of the village co-operatives. Small holdings should be consolidated and steps should be taken to prevent further fragmentation.”
The Agrarian Reforms Committee, under Shri J.C. Kumarappa provided the guidelines for the formulation of land reform policies in independent India.
Note # 5. Soil Erosion:
The denudation or cutting away of soil particles by natural agencies like rain, wind or running water is called the erosion of soil. According to Dr. Bennett, “The vastly accelerated process of soil removal brought about by human interference, with the normal disequilibrium between ‘soil building’ and ‘soil removal’ is designated as soil erosion.” It can best be described as “the theft of the soil by the natural elements and is the removal of soil particles either singly or in mass.”
Soil erosion degrades the basic characteristics of lands. It makes the land unproductive and waste. Planning Commission, Government, of India has defined, waste lands. According to the Commission, “Degraded lands which can be brought under vegetative cover with reasonable effort and which may be currently under-utilized or land which is deteriorating for lack of appropriate water and soil management or on account of natural causes.”
Note # 6. Ayacut Development and Water Management:
Ayacut development refers to water utilization and management in areas recently brought under irrigation and can also cover areas newly reclaimed by flood control, drainage and soil conservation measures. It implies planned development of agricultural production in those areas as composite operation, involving adoption of improved agricultural practices, land shaping, construction of channels, supply of inputs and introduction of new cropping pattern.
Each water use management pilot project covers about 10,000 hectares of area in a compact block mainly in a region where percentage of utilised irrigation potential is comparatively high. During 1973-74, it was decided to establish 25 such projects in the country.
By 1999-2000 country has created about 94.7 million hectares of irrigation potential. It is about 68 per cent of the ultimate irrigation potential. This comprises 35.3 million hectares through major and medium projects and 59.4 million hectares through minor irrigation schemes.
The Table given below shows the creation of irrigation potential and its utilization:
This shows that development of irrigation received high priorities during the plan period.
Note # 7. Prakhanddan Movement:
The original bhoodan and gramdan movement was subsequently expanded into Prakhanddan movement was subsequently expanded into Prakhanddan Movement covering the villages of whole development blocks. When at least 75 per cent of the population of a prakhand (Block) or 85 per cent of the revenue villages of the block have declared gramdan the whole block qualifies to be called a Prakhanddan Block. This movement has met with spectacular success in Bihar followed by Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra in that order.
About 4.2 million acres of land were received in Bhoodan, but so far only about 1.3 million acres have been distributed. The State Governments have not taken any initiative for development of these lands even where there are in compact blocks. This is an area where a conscious thrust would be necessary.
Following are the important shortcomings of the programme:
1. It is feared that recipients might give their land to others for cultivation, but it cannot be so because before giving the land four tests are applied which are as follows:
(a) Poverty of the person;
(b) Landlessness of the person;
(c) Capacity of the person to fill the land; and
(d) Desire of the person to have the land.
Those who answer these tests satisfactorily are only given the land.
2. The biggest criticism regarding Bhoodan is the delay in distribution of land. The country is short of food and the delay in the distribution of land results in loss to the country which the country at this time can hardly afford. This delay occurs, because of finding suitable and deserving persons and if hurry is done in it, the land may go to the wrong person which will eventually mean end of this movement.
Further, those who think that delay results in a fall in production are not justified because it is clearly mentioned in the precautionary measures of application form that every donor will have to cultivate the land till it is not distributed. Thus, the question of the land remaining out of cultivation and the consequent fall in agricultural production does not arise.
3. Some critics previously were of the opinion that Vinobaji got land in Telengana district which was the centre of communist activities and where many landlords were beheaded and, therefore, other zamindars donated their land in order to save themselves. But this opinion had to be revised when in other peace loving states the collection of land reached considerably high limits.
4. Another doubt was expressed by many on the ground that nearly 50 per cent of collected land is of disputed nature involving litigation and about 70 per cent of the total collection consists mostly of infertile land. As no correct and reliable statistics are available in this connection the above percentage is only a guess work.
5. Another view expressed against the movement is that it has created land-hunger instead of suppressing it. But this is not the case for suppressed fire is a greater potential danger that the burning fire.
Following suggestions may be made to bring efficiency in the working of the movement:
1. The Bhoodan Committee should be divided into 3 different groups. The duty of one should be to collect land only while the work of the second group should be to reclaim or to improve land. But all this requires monetary help. Therefore, the duty of the third group should be to collect money. If the improved or fertile land is not given to the labourers neither the labourers will be satisfied nor will there be any rise in production. The only significance of Bhoodan then will be a change in the ownership of land.
2. The members of the Bhoodan Committee should be very strict in distributing the land. They must see that the donor may not get the land in some other’s name. Therefore, to check this tendency proper enquiry should be made about the donee in the village before giving him the land.
3. The movement should be carried on a well-planned scheme because without it, it will be just like bullocks without yoke which can move in any direction.
4. The pace of the distribution of the land should be quickened, otherwise the dissatisfaction in the people will arise and it will be a great hindrance in its way. The idea of first pooling and then distributing the land should be given up.
Note # 8. Agricultural Policy before and after Independence:
In the Pre-British days, India had a balanced though static economy. The advent of the British dealt it a severe blow. On one side, it led to the decline of cottage industries; on the other, it broke the isolation and self-sufficiency of the village.
The rapid decline of industries compelled a large section of population to seek livelihood in the already over-crowded agriculture. It was, therefore, necessary “—-to counterbalance the decline in manufactures by a proportionate development of the agricultural wealth of the country——if the prosperity of India was to be sustained.”
Even in the early days of the East India Company, a certain interest began to be taken in the possibility of improving Indian agriculture. As far back as 1788, the court of Directors asked the govt. of India to afford every encouragement to the production and improvement of cotton.
However, as in other matters, so in the sphere of agriculture, it was believed that methods which had proved successful in Great Britain would succeed in India also.
Thus, in 1839, the company requisitioned the services of 12 American cotton Planters to show how cotton should be grown in India. In 1864, the Madras govt. imported steam ploughs and a battery of implements ‘to teach Indian cultivators how to cultivate the soil.
The first regular associations which interested themselves in the question of agricultural improvement were not governmental bodies but private societies started by Europeans. These were the Agricultural and Horticultural societies set up at Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay. These were helped by the govt. either in the form of financial aid or a free grant of land for experimental purposes.
The first direct governmental institutions meant for introducing agricultural improvements were the Botanical Gardens, each run by an expert. These two institutions, the Horticultural societies and the Botanical Gardens, mainly concerned themselves with the introduction of foreign plants in India.
“The prosperous industry of tea planting in India and Ceylon may be said to have emanated from the botanical gardens of Calcutta—–.” Similarly, the successful introduction of the Potato and Cinchona, certain ‘useful’, ornamental shrubs and valuable crops goes to the credit of these very institutions.
Attempts were also made to improve the staple crops like cotton and Indigo, especially the cotton by introducing an American variety in Dharwar.
These efforts, welcome though did not bear much fruit, firstly because they had little bearing on the production of cereals and food grains and, secondly, because the persons who were employed as managers were either inexperienced or had very little knowledge of Indian conditions and the methods of Indian cultivators.
Above all, these efforts were small, sporadic, and not conceived as part of an overall scheme. The authorities, still wedded to the Laissez- Faire philosophy of Adam Smith and J.S. Mill, had ‘a definite prejudice against spending public money on the improvement of agriculture.
However, the series of famines in the country after the seventies of the 19th century added a new dimension to the urgency of improvements in the field of agriculture. Over the period 1860-1908, the country suffered a famine or scarcity in 20 out of a total of 49 years.
Almost every part of the country had its share of misfortunes; few escaped completely the death and destruction caused by famines while millions were thrown into unemployment and privation.
This compelled the govt., to consider ways and means of improving Indian agriculture and the economic condition of the rural population. Thus it was that famines became the focal point around which agricultural policy was built in India during the last quarter of the 19th century.
In dealing with the problem of relief of the sufferers and the prevention of famines in the country, the administration suffered from the lack of accurate statistical information about the size of population, the cultivated area, the amount of food production, existing food stocks and the economic condition of the people.
Policies had to be formulated and vital decisions based on the opinion of local officers and police reports which were often far removed from the real facts of the situation.
It was to meet this vital need that the Famine Commission of 1866 mooted the idea of a special govt., department “to collect accurate information in regard to population and agricultural production.” Lord Lawrence, however, considered the step ‘immature’.
Outside pressure was soon brought to bear on the govt., to take a more active interest in the cultivation of Indian cotton. With the arrival in India of Lord May, himself a practical agriculturist, the proposal began to receive a more serious attention.
In 1869, definite schemes were formulated for organising an agricultural Bureau, and in 1871, on the persistent pressure of the Manchester Association, a Department of Revenue, Agriculture and Commerce of the govt., of India began to function.
Lord Mayo’s enthusiasm for agriculture, however, evoked no response in England where the Secretary of State, in his anxiety to concentrate all attention on revenue, transformed the new department primarily into a revenue department.
It was burdened with heavy duties of such a multifarious description that, in the govt., of India’s own words, “it had neither the leisure nor the power to take up either directly or efficiently the many problems which affected the agriculture and rural economy of the empire.”
The Department proved short lived and was reabsorbed in the Home Department in 1879 on account of financial stringency and non-cooperation of the provincial govts.
The whole question of agriculture came up once again before the commission of 1880 which emphasised the necessity of an organisation charged with the duty of undertaking agricultural research, improvements and collecting agricultural statistics.
The Commission, therefore, recommended the creation of an agricultural department, to be assisted by provincial departments, the absence of which was one of the causes of the failure of the earlier experiment. Accordingly in 1881, the central department was revived.
The Provincial govts, however, took long to organise them and, even when created, were in the first few years of their existence, engaged in organising and developing I he local agency by which agricultural statistics and village records were prepared.
Even experts, wherever appointed, busied themselves in classificatory work rather than in the development of agricultural resources. Thus the Botanist explored and classified the Flora; the Geologist examined the rocks and strata. In short, scientific research was in the ‘classificatory and systematizing’ stage.
The first step in putting agricultural research on solid footing was taken in 1889 when Dr. Voelkar was sent “to advise upon the best course to the adopted in order to apply the teachings of agricultural chemistry to Indian agriculture.”
Dr. Voelkar exploded the myth that Indian agriculture was, as a whole, primitive and backward. Rather, in many parts of the country, he found that there was little or nothing that could be improved.
While outlining various measures for the future development of Indian agriculture, he emphasised that “improvements in the system of land tenure, improvement of the land by expenditure of public and private capital and similar measures may alleviate the conditions of the Indian cultivator, but they will not provide the food that the people must have to live upon. For this, the soil itself must be looked into, as it alone can produce the crops and manure alone can enable it to bring forth the necessary increment.”
He, therefore, recommended the extension of irrigation facilities as well as the provision of wood for fuel to the people so that cow dung was not burnt.
The recommendations of Dr. Voelkar were reinforced by the Famine Commission of 1901 which, pointing out the inadequate progress made by agricultural departments, recommended the strengthening of these departments in all provinces, introduction of co-operative credit societies, agricultural research and experiment, the investigation of crop diseases and their remedies, improvement of cattle breeding, and further legislation on the lines of the Punjab Land Alienation Act.
Meanwhile, at the suggestion of the Agricultural Conference held in 1890, j. w. Leather was appointed Agricultural chemist to the govt., of India. In 1901, an Inspector General of Agriculture, a Mycologist and, in 1903. an entomologist was appointed. About this time, Henry Phipps of U.S.A. offered a donation of £30,000 to be applied to some object of public utility, preferably connected with scientific research.
This was utilised for the establishment of the agricultural Research Institute at Pusa in the year 1903. Similar, though smaller, institutions were established in the provinces also. These institutions were to direct their energies to agricultural research, experiment, demonstration and instruction. Agricultural colleges were established at Poona, Nagpur, Lyallpur, Coimbatore and Kanpur.
Note # 9. Marketing of Agro-Chemicals:
The Indian crop protection industry is estimated to be Rs. 27,000 crore in 2013-14, growing at a CAGR of 12 percent. Insecticides are the largest sub-segment of agro-chemicals with 60 percent market share, whereas herbicides with 16 percent market share are the fastest growing segment in India, according to a report published by FICCI (2012).
The Indian agro-chemicals market is growing over the years. India’s agro-chemicals consumption is one of the lowest in the world with per hectare consumption of 0.58 kg compared to US (4.5 kg/ha) and Japan (11 kg/ha). In India, paddy accounts for the maximum share of pesticide consumption, around 28 percent, followed by cotton (20%). The low consumption represents an opportunity for further growth of the industry.
The agro-chemicals industry consists of various types of chemicals used for crop protection.
The main segments in this category are:
Insecticides are used for various crops prevent insect attacks. They are an essential part of farming.
Many crops are vulnerable to diseases caused by fungi. Such diseases are controlled by fungicides. Fruit plants are also susceptible to fungi diseases. The market share of fungicides has increased over the years.
Every farmer needs to fight weeds, which sap the nutrients from the soil. Either the weeds are pulled out manually by employing labour or fought with herbicides. This is the fastest growing segment of agro-chemicals and sales are seasonal, since weeds do not grow in cold weather.
Since chemical pesticides are not completely washed out and are harmful when ingested, and even leach into the groundwater, a market for bio-pesticides has opened up. Bio-pesticides are made from natural substances found in nature and are made from plants, animals or bacteria. Though it is a small segment, the bio-pesticides market is expected to grow in the future, since a segment of consumers prefer organically produced food which does not use harmful chemicals.
Plant growth regulators such as nematocides, rodenticides and fumigants form this category. Rodenticides and plant growth regulators are the stars of this segment.
The key market participants in the industry, which include MNCs as well as Indian companies, are as follows:
i. BASF India
ii. Bayer Crop science Ltd.
iii. Dhanuka Agritech Limited
iv. Dow Agro Sciences India Pvt. Ltd.
vi. Excel Crop Care Limited
vii. Gharda Chemicals Ltd.
viii. Meghmani Organics Limited
ix. Monsanto India Ltd.
x. Rallis India
xi. Syngenta India
xii. United Phosphorous Limited
However, the industry faces many challenges, which are described here:
1. First is the overuse of chemicals to fight pests. The farmer panics when pests attack and uses heavy doses of chemicals to contain them.
2. Second, safety measures for workers are seldom imposed; usually they tie a cloth over their nose and mouth and spray the pesticides.
3. Third, pesticides are a health hazard not only for farm workers but consumers as well.
4. Fourth, they end up destroying the environment.
5. Fifth, India faces a high problem of fake pesticides being sold to farmers. Reuters (2015) reports that counterfeits account for up to 30 percent of the US$4 billion pesticide market and they are continuously gaining market share in India.
Overuse of chemicals has hit Indian exports as well. Gulf News (2014) reports that Saudi Arabia banned the import of Indian chili due to the presence of high pesticide residues in it. The European Union (EU) also temporarily banned the import of Alphonso mangoes and four vegetables from India after it allegedly found that 207 consignments of fruits and vegetables imported from India in 2013 contained excessive pesticide residues.
The industry faces a dilemma; while crop protection measures help in killing pests and saving crops, their use destroys the environment. The FICCI report shows that the number of pests attacking crops has increased manifold since 1940 to present.
The industry has to find a safe way to use agro-chemicals while also educating farmers about the type of pesticide to be used and how they must be used. At the same time, government efforts to control fake products must also be increased.
Note # 10. Fodder Conservation:
Fodder conservation is the storage of fodder on the farm as a reserve for use during seasonal shortage of feed or in drought. Conserved fodder reduces stock losses during dry times.
A farmer may decide to conserve fodder if the farm regularly carries a number of animals, especially if they are valuable stud stock. He will probably not conserve fodder if the cost of producing it is too high, if suitable fodder can be bought cheaply or if it is easy for him to reduce stock numbers in a dry period.
Fodder may be conserved in the form of silage, hay, chaff or stored grain. Whichever method is used, the fodder must be protected properly, and the aim should be quality of fodder, not quantity, Conservation is likely to be more efficient if full use is made of mechanised equipment.
Certain types of plant material may be conserved in a succulent condition as silage. Leafy crops with juicy stalks are suitable for this purpose, such as young maize, Japanese millet, soft grasses and pasture plants or even weeds. Silage can be made in almost any weather and is fire proof, vermin proof, and keeps well.
Silage may be made and stored in earth pits or trenches on hillsides, on the surface of the ground, or in tanks or silos. In making silage it is essential to pack the green material down tightly and so exclude the air. Tractors may be used to assist packing, and the stack may be sealed by an earth covering, polythene sheeting or by other methods.
The plant material begins to respire rapidly, and the temperature rises. Soon the stack is so hot that further fermentation is prevented. Many of the sugars in the plant material are turned into acids, so some silage is rather sour to the taste. However when some air is admitted by slow filling, fermentation is rapid at first but soon stops and a sweet silage is produced. In quickly-made silage the colour of the material remains quite green in the centre of the stack, but the taste is sour.
There are sometimes problems in feeding out silage. It may be fed out by cutting vertical slices from the stack. Sometimes stock will not eat silage at first, and must be induced to do so.
Disadvantages of silage are that it is heavy, requires considerable plant and is unsaleable. Pit or trench silage may suffer spoilage by rain, and any silage stack will include some which cannot be used.
Hay consists of dried plant material. Bacteria and fungi cannot grow in material with a moisture content of less than 15 per cent, so properly-dried hay keeps for a long time.
Crops which are to be made into hay must be cut at the right time. If cut too late, the food in the stalks and leaves will have passed into the seeds and the product will be straw, not hay.
When a reaper and binder is used on hay crops, drying is done by forming the sheaves into stooks. Mown crops are usually dried in the field as windrows, but crops may also be dried on special racks. Special drying machines may be used in humid climates.
After drying, loose hay may be collected by a hay rake, side delivery rake or by pick-up balers. Baling is more popular because the hay is more compact, is more easily fed out and suffers less weather damage. Stored hay must be protected from rain, surface water, vermin and fire. Hay is usually stored on a platform above the ground and is roofed over.
The advantages of storing grain are that it is a more concentrated food, it can be sold if not used or can be used as seed.
Wheat, oats, maize and sorghum are commonly stored in concrete or iron silos. Corn on the cob is usually stored in roofed cribs. Grain stored in silos should be treated with an insecticide such as carbon bisulphide.
Silos are filled from the top and two openings are provided at the bottom of the silo. One opening is fitted with a guillotine shutter for the filling of bags. The other opening is the special design which allows an auger to be used for bulk delivery.