It seems that the Corona situation has made the country think about using the existing opportunities in an expeditious manner. These opportunities were there even before the crisis, but the economic challenge that the present time has thrown has forced everyone to decisively make a move.
The Corona crisis provided an opportunity for the government to undertake the biggest ever reform measures in the agriculture sector such as allowing the farmers to sell their produce beyond the specified mandis, paving way for private participation in storage infrastructure by removing many agricultural produces from the preview of essential commodity act etc.
When India is now moving towards treating a farmer as an entrepreneur rather than the cliched image of a sobbing soul, let’s see three instances which are providing a lucrative opportunity for any farmer who thinks like an entrepreneur.
Heeng & Kesar
Situation: In India, the annual demand for Saffron spice is 100 tons per year but its average production is about 6-7 tons per year. Hence a large amount of Saffron is being imported. Similarly, there is no production of heeng in India and currently about 1,200 tons of raw heeng worth ₹600 crore is being imported from Afghanistan, Iran, and Uzbekistan.
Action: To increase the production of these two spices in India, the Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (CSIR-IHBT) and the Department of Agriculture, Government of Himachal Pradesh, have forged strategic and implementation partnership.
At present, about 2,825 hectares of land is under cultivation of Saffron in Jammu and Kashmir. IHBT has developed the production technology for Saffron and introduced its cultivation in non-traditional areas of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The Institute has also developed tissue-culture protocol for the production of disease-free corms.
When it comes to Asafoetida, a production protocols under Indian conditions to grow the Iranian variety has been initiated.
Situation: India’s recent efforts to improve the state of beekeeping have helped increase the volume of honey exports from 29.6 to 51.5 thousand tonnes between 2014-15 and 2017-18. India has a potential of about 200 million bee colonies as against 3.4 million bee colonies today. Increasing the number of bee colonies will not only increase the production of bee-related products but will boost overall agricultural and horticultural productivity.
Action: In tranche 3 of the Economic Relief, ₹500 crore allocation for infrastructure development related to Beekeeping was announced. It aims to increase income for 2 lakh beekeepers, with a special thrust on capacity building of women.
Situation: The export of herbs and value-added extracts of medicinal herbs are gradually increasing over the years. India exported USD 330.18 Million worth of Herbs during 2017-18, with a growth rate of 14.22% over the previous year. With China and India as the major players in this market, some estimations suggest that the market which is at ₹4.2 billon may reach to ₹14 billion by 2026. You may read in detail in our article ₹4,000 Crore to Promote Herbal Cultivation: How This Promises A Fortune for Farmers.
Action: While announcing the Economic Package, ₹4,000 crore to promote Herbal Cultivation in India has been detailed, the government aims to cover 10 lakh hectares under herbal cultivation in 2 years. A corridor of medicinal plants of 800 hectares shall be set up along the banks of Ganga.
These three are some examples that illustrate how a set of opportunities are up for grab for the farming communities. With private players getting an opportunity to enter the until regulated agriculture market, such opportunities are expected to grow for the benefits of farmers in the days to come.