“Six years back there was only one central agricultural university in the country. Today we have three along with Indian Agriculture Research Centres in Jharkhand and Assam, Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Integrated Farming in Motihari in Bihar.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi counted on while inaugurating the College and Administration Buildings of Rani Lakshmi Bai Central Agricultural University through remote video conference.
This gives an idea of how the government has not lowered its administrative focus on agriculture while managing the pandemic. In fact, some of the biggest market reforms have happened during this pandemic year.
As if in reciprocation, it is the Indian farmers who are giving hope and inspiration in a year that has battered the globe and halted nearly all economic activities. Here are the glimmers of hope emerging from the upbeat Indian farm sector, at a time everything is slightly feeling low in spirit.
Record Kharif Sowing
As on August 28, 2020, total Kharif crops have been sown on 1082.22 lakh ha area against 1009.98 lakh ha area during the corresponding period of last year. Thus, an increase in area coverage by 7.15% compared to corresponding period of last year in the country has been registered.
About 389.81 lakh ha area coverage under rice has taken place as compared to 354.41 lakh ha. during the corresponding period of last year. Thus 35.40 lakh ha more area has been covered compared to last year.
About 134.57 lakh ha area coverage under pulses has been achieved as compared to 128.65 lakh ha. for the corresponding period of last year. Thus 5.91 lakh ha more area has been covered compared to last year.
The other varieties that have witnessed increase in sowing area are: coarse cereals, oilseeds, sugarcane, jute & mesta, cotton.
Sale of Fertilizers Also Upbeat
The sale of fertilizers is another indicator that Indian farmers are upbeat even in the pandemic year. During April-June 2020, the POS (point of sale) sale of fertilisers to farmers was 111.61 lakh tonnes, which is 82.81% higher than the last year’s sale of 61.05 lakh tonnes during the same period.
This tells another story of how the government has ensured the supply of fertilizers to farmers amidst the strict lockdown that was in place for three months.
Agro Goods Export Spike
Even during the difficult time of pandemic lockdown, India took care to not to disturb the world food supply chain and continued to export. The exports of Agri commodities during March 2020 to June 2020 are valued at ₹25,552.7 Crore against an export of ₹20,734.8 Crore during the same period in 2019, showing a sharp increase of 23.24%.
The agricultural exports as a percentage of India’s agricultural GDP has increased from 9.4 % in 2017-18 to 9.9 % in 2018-19. While the agricultural imports as a percentage of India’s agricultural GDP has declined from 5.7 % to 4.9 %, indicating exportable surplus and decreased dependence on import of agricultural products in India.
The story emerging from India’s farm sector is a source of inspiration and is certainly giving reasons to keep the spirit high in an arguably tough year like this amidst pandemic and floods.