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PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU

20-December -2023

1. Soil Health Management and Soil Health Card Schemes

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Interventions for development in various sectors
Critical for UPSC: India’s Soil Health Card Scheme integration with RKVY enhances sustainable agriculture, impacting millions through informed soil management.
Context:
  • The Government of India, through the Soil Health Card Schemes, has distributed 23.58 crore cards to farmers since 2014-15.
  • Merged with RKVY, it emphasizes judicious fertilizer use and has conducted extensive training and demonstrations nationwide.
  • Initiative Name: Soil Health Management & Soil Health Card Schemes
  • Implemented by: Government of India
  • Initiated Since: 2014-15
  • Under the National Project: National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture
  • Integration: Merged as Soil Health & Fertility component of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY)
  • Objective: Provide farmers with information on the nutrient status of their soil and recommend appropriate dosage of nutrients for improved soil health and productivity.
Achievements:
  • Soil Health Cards Distributed:58 crore
  • Implementation Scheme: Guidelines issued for the Soil Health & Fertility component of RKVY
    • Training and Demonstrations:
    • Farmer’s Trainings: 93,781 conducted
    • Demonstrations: 6.45 lakh organized
    • Farmer’s Melas/Campaigns: 7,425 held
    • Focus Areas of Training:
    • Judicious use of chemical fertilizers
    • Integration of secondary and micronutrients
    • Combined use with organic manures & bio-fertilizers
  • Awareness Creation: Trainings and demonstrations conducted to raise awareness among farmers.
  • Geographic Coverage: Activities organized across the country.
PYQ: How and to what extent would micro-irrigation help in solving India’s water crisis?(UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2021) (150 words/10 m)
Practice Question: Practice Question: Critically analyze the objectives and potential benefits of the Soil Health Card Scheme launched by the Government of India. Discuss the challenges in its implementation and suggest measures to overcome them. (250 words/15 m)

2. Report on Farmers’ Income

Topic: GS3 – Indian Agriculture – Doubling Farmers Income.
UPSC Significance: Examines strategies for doubling farmers’ income, budget allocation growth, and successful implementation of key agricultural policies.
Context:
  • The Inter-Ministerial Committee, formed in 2016, recommended strategies for doubling farmers’ income, focusing on seven income growth sources.
  • Budget allocation for agriculture increased significantly.
  • Implemented policies and schemes led to notable income augmentation.
Inter-Ministerial Committee (2016):
  • Examined the “Doubling of Farmers Income (DFI)” and recommended strategies.
  • Submitted its final report in September 2018 with various policies, reforms, and programs.
  • Seven Sources of Income Growth:
    1. Increase in crop productivity
    2. Increase in livestock productivity
    3. Resource use efficiency – reduction in cost of production
    4. Increase in cropping intensity
    5. Diversification to high value agriculture
    6. Remunerative prices on farmers’ produce
    7. Shift of surplus manpower from farm to non-farm occupations
  • Budget Allocation Growth (2013-14 to 2023-24):
    • Despite the separation of ministries, the total budget allocation for the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare increased significantly from Rs. 30,223.88 crore to Rs. 1,25,035.79 crore.
Key Policies and Schemes:
  • Implemented several policies and schemes, including PM KISAN, PMFBY, MSP, organic farming, Per Drop More Crop, FPOs, NBHM, e-NAM, AIF, Kisan Rail, MIDH, start-up ecosystem, and agri exports.
Success Results:
  • Implementation of these schemes has yielded remarkable results towards augmenting the income of the farmers.
Doubling Farmers Income
Challenges:
  • Low productivity: India’s average crop yields lag behind global averages due to fragmented landholdings, inadequate irrigation, and lack of access to quality seeds and technologies.
  • Market volatility: Farmers face fluctuating prices due to dependence on intermediaries, lack of cold storage facilities, and limited access to value-added markets.
  • High production costs: Rising input costs of fertilizers, pesticides, and fuel erode profit margins for farmers.
  • Limited non-farm income opportunities: Dependence on rain-fed agriculture leaves many farmers vulnerable to seasonal income fluctuations.
  • Climate change: Increasing droughts, floods, and erratic weather patterns further impact agricultural productivity and income.
Way forward:
  • Promote adoption of precision agriculture, improved seeds, and sustainable farming practices.
  • Improve access to irrigation and soil testing facilities.
  • Invest in agricultural research and development for high-yielding crop varieties.
  • Strengthen farmer producer organizations (FPOs) for collective bargaining and direct market access.
  • Develop efficient cold chain infrastructure to reduce post-harvest losses.
  • Implement crop insurance schemes to mitigate income risks.
  • Promote resource-efficient technologies and organic farming practices.
  • Streamline input distribution systems and address price fixing by middlemen.
  • Provide subsidies and financial incentives for adopting cost-effective technologies.
PYQ: What do you mean by the Minimum Support Price (MSP)? How will MSP rescue the farmers from the low-income trap? (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2018) (150 words/15 m)
Practice Question: Critically analyze the potential of digital and sustainable agricultural practices in achieving the goal of doubling farmers’ income in India. Discuss the challenges and suggest strategies to overcome them. (250 words/15 m)

3. World’s Largest Grain Storage Plan

Topic: GS3 – Agriculture – Food Security
UPSC relevance: “Grain Storage Plan” addresses food security, farmer empowerment, and scheme convergence, vital for agricultural and economic policies.
Context:
  • The government’s “World’s Largest Grain Storage Plan in Cooperative Sector” aims to address food grain storage shortages.
  • Through PACS-level infrastructure development and scheme convergence, it empowers farmers, ensures financial support, and involves key agencies for effective implementation.
  • The plan benefits farmers by providing storage, financial options, and diversified income, contributing to food security.
  • Government Initiative: “World’s Largest Grain Storage Plan in Cooperative Sector” approved on 31.05.2023.
  • Infrastructure Development: Involves creation of agri infrastructure at PACS level – decentralized godowns, custom hiring centers, processing units, Fair Price Shops.
  • Convergence of Schemes: Utilizes existing government schemes like Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF), Agricultural Marketing Infrastructure Scheme (AMI), Sub Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM), PMFME,
  • Financial Support: PACS can avail subsidies, interest subvention, and NABARD’s highly subsidized refinancing for projects up to Rs. 2 Crore.
  • Strengthening PACS: Aims to diversify PACS business activities, enhance revenue, and improve financial sustainability.
  • Implementing Agencies: National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), NABARD, FCI, CWC, NABCONS, NBCC, etc., involved in Pilot Project implementation.
  • Accountability Mechanism: Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) and National Level Coordination Committee (NLCC) constituted for guideline modification and overall project steering.
  • State-Level Committees: State Cooperative Development Committee (SCDC) and District Cooperative Development Committee (DCDC) monitor and integrate project at state and district levels.
  • MoU for Collaboration: Signed between Ministry of Cooperation, Department of Food and Public Distribution, FCI, and NCDC for full capacity utilization.
  • Targeted PACS: 1,711 PACS identified for storage capacity creation, with ongoing construction in 13 PACS across 13 States/UTs.
  • Benefits to Farmers:
    • Bridge finance and flexibility in selling produce.
    • Access to agri inputs and services at Panchayat/village level.
    • Additional sources of income through business diversification.
    • Expanded market size and better value realization for produce.
  • Food Security and Consumer Benefits: Ensures food security at Panchayat/village level, reducing post-harvest losses and benefiting consumers.

4. NEW SWARNIMA LOAN SCHEME

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections

UPSC relevance: “New Swarnima Scheme” addresses women empowerment in backward classes, aligning with socio-economic inclusion and policy initiatives.
Context:
  • NBCFDC’s “New Swarnima Scheme for Women” aims at empowering backward class women through term loans, offering financial support with minimal personal investment.
  • Scheme Name: New Swarnima Scheme for Women by NBCFDC.
  • Objectives: Foster self-dependence in backward class women through term loans.
  • Eligibility:
    • Women from backward classes as per Central/State Govt notifications.
    • Annual family income should be below Rs.3.00 Lakh.
  • Salient Features:
    • Targets women with annual family income below Rs.3.00 Lakh.
    • No personal investment required for projects costing up to Rs.2,00,000/-
    • Lower interest rates compared to general loan schemes.

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