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October 2022 Kurukshetra Magazine Issue: Agripreneurship

Kurukshetra Magazine is a vital source of study material for the UPSC IAS exam. It is a monthly magazine that gives information about important government schemes and programmes in various sectors. Kurukshetra is an authentic source of information for the UPSC Exam. Here, we provide the Gist of Kurukshetra, exclusively for the IAS Exam.

Chapter 1: AatmaNirbharta through Agripreneurship

Introduction

  • The announcement of the “Udyami Bharat” on 30 June 2022 by the Prime Minister of India highlights the importance of entrepreneurship and its underlying potential.
  • According to economic theory, the reward for entrepreneurship, which is one of the four factors of production, is profit.
    • An entrepreneur would take the risk of organising the other three factors of production namely land, labour and capital to maximise the objectives such as sales, revenue, profit, etc.
  • Agriculture is one of the key sectors of the Indian economy, accounting for around 18 to 20% share of the GDP and about 70% of the rural population relies on agriculture and allied sectors for their livelihood.
  • However, in recent years there has been an increase in rural-urban migration as the poor infrastructural facility has acted as one of the key push factors and better job opportunities in urban areas has acted as one of the important pull factors.
    • The ratio of urban population to the total population of the country has grown at a rapid rate of 2.76 percent i.e. urban population which stood at 27.81% in 2001 increased to 31.16% in 2011.
  • Against this backdrop, Agripreneurship is seen as an important option to mitigate the burden on agriculture and arrest the rate of rural-urban migration.

Agripreneurship 

  • Agripreneurship is nothing but entrepreneurship in agriculture and its allied sectors.
  • The adoption of innovative methods, processes and techniques in agriculture and its allied sectors ensures better output and profits, and has become a catalyst of progressive change in the rural economy.
  • The demand for an entrepreneur in the agriculture and allied set-up has grown in the recent past, due to the rapid integration of global supply chains and the associated compliances required in maintaining ecological balance.
  • Agripreneurship spans various sub-sectors such as food processing, fisheries, seed processing, smart agri-tech provisioning, soil testing, vermicompost, etc.
  • Agripreneurship also includes rice mills, pulses mills, sugar factories, bakeries, fertiliser production units, food processing units, agro-service centres, etc.

Significance of  Agripreneurship 

  • The agripreneur is said to be the one who utilises information at the right time, relies on innovative solutions, and uses state-of-the-art technology in cultivation.
  • An agripreneur bears the risks arising out of the vagaries of nature, market and consumer preferences.
  • Further, by promoting agripreneurship, it can be ensured that losses involving perishable commodities are minimised, consumer benefits are enhanced and price discovery is attained effectively.
  • As Agripreneurs are also involved in post-production operations such as processing and marketing which require specialised handling, higher investments can be attracted.
  • Agripreneurship also promotes and provides a boost to the cooperatives, e.g. dairy cooperatives.
  • Agripreneurship can also act as a tool for women’s empowerment.
  • Agripreneurship can also be a solution for the increasing rate of the disguised and unemployed workforce and provide them with a remunerative alternative.
  • Furthermore, agripreneurship makes use of local resources which thereby decreases the possibility of post-harvest losses and reduces the push factor for rural-urban migration.

Government policies and programmes

Various Ministries and Departments of the Government of India have formulated policies and schemes to promote agripreneurship and provide an enabling environment

  • Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana – Remunerative Approaches For Agriculture and Allied sector Rejuvenation (RKVY- RAFTAAR) – This scheme aims at making farming a remunerative economic activity.
    • The scheme provides financial support and nurtures the incubation ecosystem by strengthening farmers’ risk mitigation efforts, and focuses on the development of pre and post-harvest infrastructure by promoting agripreneurship.
    • RKVY-RAFTAAR includes agripreneurship orientation, with a stipend for the entrepreneur; seed stage funding and funding for incubatees. Know more on RKVY-RAFTAAR in the link.
  • PM Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Scheme (PMFME) – This scheme of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries provides financial, technical and business support for the upgradation of existing micro food processing enterprises.
    • The PMFME scheme aims to enhance the competitiveness of existing individual microenterprises in the unorganised segment of the food processing industry and promote the formalisation of the sector.
  • Agriculture Infrastructure Fund – This programme was launched under the AatmaNirbhar Bharat Package in 2020.
    • This is a dedicated Central Government scheme for providing medium to long-term credit facilities for investment in the creation of postharvest management infrastructure and community farming assets. Know more about the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund in the link.
  • Udyam registration portal – Launched on 01 July 2020 as a part of the AatmaNirbhar Bharat package specifically designed to help MSMEs emerge out of the ill effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Gramodyog Vikas Yojana – It is a scheme of the Ministry of MSME, which is an artisan-centric programme implemented with the aim of the revival of traditional and inherent skills of rural artisans in village industries, has a special focus on Processing Industry such as Oil Industry, Aromatic Oil, Honey and Bee-Keeping.
  • Collateral Guarantee Scheme – It is also a scheme of the Ministry of MSME which involves the provision of collateral-free loans for MSMEs.
  • Special Credit Linked Capital Subsidy Scheme (SCLCSS) – This scheme of the Ministry of MSME promotes the setting up of new enterprises by aspiring entrepreneurs of the SC/ST communities.
  • The Ministry of MSME’s other programmes such as the PM Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) and A Scheme for Promotion of Innovation, Rural Industries and Entrepreneurship (ASPIRE)

Path ahead

  • Entrepreneurship has been adopted as a subject in the curricula of many teaching institutes in urban areas so that young entrepreneurs are aware of entrepreneurship being one of the career options and also for honing the skills of young entrepreneurs.
    • But there is an urgent need for promoting entrepreneurial culture among people in rural areas.
  • In this context, the Rural Entrepreneurship Awareness Development Yojana (READY) which has been incorporated into undergraduate education in agriculture and its allied sub-sectors can be successful in generating awareness and interest among the youth.
  • The country’s diversity is reflected in the variation across its geographies, land profiles, and consequently the agricultural produce and hence the agripreneurship policies need to incorporate the region-specific potential and demands.
  • Further, the potential of agripreneurship can be tapped fully only if there is effective management of soil, seed, water, etc.
    • Therefore a converging approach is required amongst the initiatives being taken by the various Ministries/Departments of the Central Government, along with those of the state governments. This will help in making agripreneurs self-reliant.

Chapter 2: Skills for Agri-Entrepreneurship

Concept of Entrepreneurship

  • The term “Entrepreneur” is derived from the French verb “Entreprendre” which means “to undertake”. In the early 16th century, the Frenchmen who led military expeditions were referred to as entrepreneurs.
  • Joseph Schumpeter (an Austrian Economist) in 1934 popularised the term Entrepreneurship and defined an entrepreneur as an individual who introduces something new in the economy.
  • Entrepreneurship is the process of identifying opportunities in the marketplace, arranging the resources required for pursuing these opportunities and investing the resources to exploit the opportunities for long-term gain.

Agri-Entrepreneurship

  • Agri-Entrepreneurship is imperative to transform agriculture into a more alluring and lucrative business venture as agriculture offers tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurship.
  • Agri-Entrepreneurship in agriculture should be sustainable, community-oriented, and directly marketed.
  • Agri-entrepreneurship has the ability to contribute to both social and economic development, including job creation, poverty reduction, improved nutrition, improved health, increased food security, and improving rural economy.
  • It is seen as a solution to the increasing burden on agriculture, generating employment opportunities for rural youth, preventing rural-to-urban migration, raising the national income and sustaining industrial development in rural areas.

Opportunities in Agri-Entrepreneurship

  • As a result of the WTO’s policy reforms along with the globalisation of agriculture as well as national policy reforms, the scope and potential of Agri-entrepreneurship have increased.
  • According to surveys, India’s total rural market is greater than its entire urban market, and it is essential for the development of the nation’s corporate growth plan.
  • With advanced technology and management, agribusiness has created several opportunities for agricultural product value addition, packaging, retailing, and exports.
  • Potential Agri-Entrepreneurship opportunities are as follows:
    • Agro-Produce Processing units
    • Agro-Produce Manufacturing facilities
    • Agro-Input Manufacturing facilities
    • Agro-Service Centres

Core Competencies and Skills for Entrepreneurs 

Entrepreneurial Skills

Image Source: Kurukshetra

  • Need for Achievement: Entrepreneurs should have a strong drive to succeed in their business and in life.
  • Visualisation: Entrepreneurs must envision creating a future for their business enterprises based on market demands, the socio-economic environment, and the technology environment.
  • Technical Expertise: Entrepreneurs must be knowledgeable in terms of technology, operations, finances, or market dynamics.
  • Innovativeness: Entrepreneurs must constantly seek fresh opportunities to expand their current company and come up with new ideas to solve various issues.
  • Independence: Entrepreneurs require independence in their job and decision-making instead of working according to general guidelines.
  • Risk Bearing Ability: Entrepreneurship is directly linked to risk. Entrepreneurs who take reasonable risks with help of preparation, skill development, and research outperform others.
  • Leadership Ability: Entrepreneurs must have exemplary leadership traits. They must possess good communication skills, decision-making skills, organizing skills and motivating skills.
  • Human Relations Skills: Entrepreneurs need to gain customers’ trust for their goods and services and they must also maintain strong ties with their employees to manage their business profitably.
  • Diligent: Entrepreneurs must be hard-working to manage a successful business venture.
  • Self-Confidence: Entrepreneurs must have faith in their abilities to face uncertainties.
  • Flexibility: Entrepreneurs need to be adaptable to shifting markets, trends, technology, laws, and regulatory frameworks, as well as shifting economic conditions.

Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS) in its Guide on Agricultural Entrepreneurship has listed different skills required by Agri-Entrepreneurship

  • Aligning business objectives with the value proposition
  • Identifying a value proposition that meets customers’ requirements and preferences
  • Situational analyses by collecting, arranging, analysing, and interpreting information
  • Diagnosing problems and finding pertinent causes
  • Evaluating and contrasting potential solutions to a given problem
  • Forecasting and estimating the work and time to execute jobs
  • Implementing, monitoring and evaluating activities
  • Selecting, designing, running, managing, and updating the agricultural production system
  • Planning on what and how to produce and making choices about the timing of production processes
  • Choosing and operating farm equipment and machinery
  • Designing the workflow from arranging inputs to the packaging of produce and sale of agricultural produce

Skill Development Initiatives

  • The organisations such as the National Institute of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (NIMSME), Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE), National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (NIESBUD), National Skill Development Corporation, National Skill Development Agency and National Skill Development Fund have been engaged in training, consultancy and research to promote entrepreneurship and skill development.
  • NABARD has been a partner of the Government in implementing schemes for Agri-Entrepreneurship such as the New Agricultural Marketing Infrastructure (AMI) sub-scheme of the Integrated Scheme for Agricultural Marketing (ISAM), Agri Clinics and Agri Business Centres Scheme (ACABC), and National Livestock Mission – Entrepreneurship Development and Employment Generation (NLM-EDEG).

Chapter 3: Economic Development

Introduction

  • A shift from agriculture to agribusiness is a key transformation to revitalise Indian agriculture and make it an attractive and profitable venture.
  • Agripreneurship has the potential to contribute to a range of social and economic development such as employment generation, poverty reduction and improvement in nutrition, health and overall food security in the national economy.
  • Further, it stimulates growth in rural and urban areas by diversifying income and creating entrepreneurship opportunities.
  • Since the inception of New Economic Reforms and the adoption of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation in 1992-95, it has been expected that rural areas will grow at par with urban areas.
  • The practice of entrepreneurship in the field of agriculture in recent years has generated a wide range of economic benefits such as increased agri productivity, creation of new business ventures, new employment, innovative products and services, development of rural areas and increased wealth.

Recent trends in the development of agriculture

  • The proportion of the agriculture and allied sector in India’s total Gross Value Added has improved to 20.2% in 2020-21 from 18.8% in 2021-22.
  • According to the Economic Survey 2021-22, agriculture and the allied sector proved to be the most resilient to the COVID-19 shock as it registered a growth of 3.6% in 2020-21 which further increased by 3.9% in 2021-22.
  • In terms of real value added, the Indian agriculture sector ranks second after China.
  • Further, in recent years, there has been a considerable emphasis on crop diversification towards horticulture (fruits, vegetables, medicinal and aromatic plants), plantation crops (coconut, cashew nuts and cocoa) and increasing manufacturing plants.
  • Contract farming is becoming more common these days.
  • Bilateral and regional trade agreements have helped to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers to cross-border agricultural production flow and increased financial market transparency resulting in increased capital flow in the form of FDI.

Economic development in agriculture due to Agri-Entrepreneurship

  • Setting up of agri-enterprises such as apiaries, food processing units, seed processing units, mushroom production units, commercial vermicompost units, goat rearing, organic vegetable and fruits retail outlet, bamboo plantation and jatropha cultivation has helped to increase profitability in agriculture and allied sectors.
  • Easy access to technology, the emergence of microfinancing, liberalised government rules, and awareness and training programmes on agri and allied sectors have prompted people to take up self-employment in the field of agriculture which has enhanced the potential of agriculture.
  • According to the recent trends in agricultural markets, agriculture has shifted from a deficit-driven to a surplus-driven industry.

Various initiatives

  • National Spot Exchange Limited (NSEL) which is a nationalised transparent electronic spot exchange based in Mumbai, is offering a cutting-edge marketplace that offers solutions to agricultural producers, processors, exporters and other stakeholders.
  • The e-Seva Kendra of the Grameen Sanchar Society (GRASSO) offers agri-related services such as market access, the price for agricultural products, availability of cold storage facilities and labour and job opportunities.
  • Agricultural Marketing Information System (AGMARKNET), the internet-based information system, seeks to provide a “single window” service appealing to various information demands.
  • Farmers Market is a unique move by some state governments known as Uzhavar Santhai (Tamil Nadu), Rythu Bazaars (Andhra Pradesh), and Apna Mandi (Punjab). These markets research the huge potential of agri-entrepreneurship training.
  • The Agriclinic and Agribusiness Centre scheme, launched by the Ministry of Agriculture along with NABARD, aims to tap the expertise of the large pool of agri-graduates.

Key challenges for Agri-Entrepreneurship 

  • Lack of technological dissemination
  • Complex legal formalities
  • Lack of technical understanding
  • Poor quality control and other bottlenecks in the growth of agripreneurship

Recommendations to address the fundamental challenges

  • Financial institutions and banks must assure prompt financial security to entrepreneurs
  • Proper supply of scarce raw materials
  • Adequate training facilities are needed
  • It is important to understand the relationship between Agripreneurship and Marketing, especially contractual marketing and digital marketing

Chapter 4: Agri Start-ups: Transforming Agripreneurship

Introduction

Image ar

  • Agritech start-ups work with technology at the core of their work philosophy and their uniqueness lies in the innovative ways they follow to link technological advancement to farmers.
  • Most of the agritech start-ups have based their business models around state-of-the-art technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (Al), Machine Learning (ML) and the Internet of Things (IoT) and the farmers are being introduced to the new agri practices and are getting exposure to the tools in a way they never were earlier.
  • The Argi start-ups are undertaking various innovations to bring technology to the doorsteps of the farmers at affordable rates.
  • This way these agritech start-ups are revolutionising agripreneurship.

Agri Start-ups in India

  • Due to the special focus on agri marketing and the use of technology in agriculture by the Government of India, the sector witnessed a sudden surge of small agri enterprises.
  • The number of agritech start-ups has increased from 43 in 2013 to 1,300 by April 2022.
  • According to a study by India Brand Equity Foundation, the investments and growth phase for agritech start-ups started in 2019 and India has received total funding of USD 1.6 billion in these entities till 2021.
  • Agritech funding stood at USD 245.2 million in 2019 which increased at a whopping 90% CAGR to USD 889 million as of 2021.

Categories of Agri Start-ups

Agri start-ups have mainly emerged into five categories namely:

  • Market linkage and supply chain
  • Farm inputs
  • Precision agriculture and farm management
  • Farming as a Service (FaaS)
  • Financial Services

Bringing Technology to the Fields

  • Vertical Farming: India is a country of small and marginal farmers with about 86% of the total farmers having less than 5 acres of land.
    • Vertical farming is seen as a viable solution to the problem as this technology facilitates farmers to cultivate over 4-5 times more crops on a single piece of land.
    • Vertical farming is also called four-level or five-level cultivation in which different types of crops are selected on the basis of their place of fruiting.
    • Vertical farming not just helps in increasing income but also ensures efficient use of water.
  • Hydroponics, aquaponics and aeroponics: these methods are also part of vertical farming where the necessary nutrients are supplied directly from water or air.
    • The most important aspect of these technologies is that they help people cultivate in their balconies or terraces or even drawing rooms.
    • This has gained significant importance considering the ever-increasing urban population.
    • Urban Kisaan, Urban Green Fate (UGF) Farms, Triton Foodworks, and 365Dfarms are some of the start-ups which are offering such unique solutions.
  • Al Farming and Precision Farming: these technologies help farmers with weather forecasts based on real-time data, increase crop yield, pest control and monitor the soil.
    • Cropin, Fasal, Intello Labs, AgNext, ReshaMandi and DeHaat are a few notable start-ups that are making their mark in Al-based precision farming.
  • Robotics and Drone Technology: using robotics and drone technology in agriculture can help address health hazards such as excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers.
    • These technologies can also help to increase the efficiency of agriculture as it helps in the conservation of soil health and groundwater.
  • Agri Fintech Platform: arranging funds at the right point in time is key to success in agriculture. However, according to the data from RBI only 41% of the small and marginal farmers are covered by public and private banks.
    • In this context, the Agrifintech platforms play a crucial role in filling this gap.
    • Samunnati, Jai Kisan, FarMart and Arya ag are a few key fintech agri startups.
  • Organic farming: Agri startups involved in organic farming are playing a significant role in ensuring the authentic quality of bio-fertilisers, bio-pesticides, vermicompost, natural compost, and jeevamrut at affordable prices.
    • UGF Farms, Pindfresh, Growing Greens, and Urban Kisaan are some such start-ups.
  • Livestock Farming Technology: the Livestock Sector which is an agri-allied sector has been growing at a CAGR of 8.15% between 2014-15 to 2019-20.
    • There are various start-ups that are helping the farmers in setting up these businesses apart from providing inputs and creating infrastructure for them.

Chapter 5: Artificial Intelligence in Agripreneurship

Introduction

The demand for food is increasing at a rapid pace on account of the rising population but the availability of land is deteriorating. This adverse correlation between land availability and food demand calls for the adoption of AI in this sector in order to reduce the input cost and assure a continuous supply of the foodgrains.

Statistics related to agriculture practice in India

  • The world population is likely to touch the 10 billion mark by 2050. It would result in rising demand for food grains. This calls for the introduction of technology like AI, and biotech in this field.
  • By an estimation, there is a need to raise the production of food grains by 70% from the present level in order to meet future demands.
  • In India agriculture contributes 18-20% of the total GDP and is responsible for generating 11% of total export income.
  • Nearly 60% of India’s population relies on agriculture for their livelihood.

The major concern in the present context is that there is slow adoption of technology in the field of agriculture, resulting in higher input costs and lower productivity. The use of technology enables the country to generate high-quality food and higher yields and thus significantly reduces the need for chemicals.

Agripreneurship

Image Source: analyticsvidhya.com

Role of AI in the agriculture sector

  • Soil management: 
    • With the help of AI, the farmers would have prior information regarding the type of soil, when to sow the crops and when to apply herbicides and when to anticipate insect outbreaks.
    • AI would help the farmers in acknowledging the practices which are harmful to the soil profile and cause long-term damage to its profile. Such information would help the farmers in practising sustainable agriculture.
  • Farm management:
    • Integration of technology like AI, with machine learning and others, would help in accessing the quality of the crops, and taking remedial measures in case of an aberration.
    • It can also advise farmers regarding the optimum practices that should be followed in the field of agriculture.
  • AI also helps in proper farm management through comprehensive planning and accessing the requirement of the labours to service the crop production.
    • With the help of AI, production can be boosted and farmers’ input costs can be reduced to a drastic level.
    • Another advantage of AI is to cut down waste production by a substantial level and make agricultural practices sustainable.
  • Weather forecast:
    • It can also analyse the long-term weather in greater detail and recommend to the farmers the changes they need to introduce in agriculture in order to make it sustainable and environmentally friendly.
  • Market access:
    • It will help in improving the efficiency of the resources and overcome market asymmetry that prevent the farmers from accessing the markets.
    • The use of AI such as agriculture credit scoring and ‘smart’ farms will help in reducing the cost of servicing for small landholders.
    • It can play a role in precision farming. With the help of precision farming, every aspect of the agricultural practices is analysed in greater detail and effective measures are taken to improve the malpractices that have crept into the system.
  • Irrigation management: 
    • With the help of AI, soil quality is analysed in greater detail along with the type of crops to be produced. Thus, the amount of water needed by the crops is spelt by AI. It will thus help in reducing the wastage of farms.

Conclusion: The adoption of technology is crucial to achieving the demands of food crops. The way the population is increasing in the world, only scientific tools can help us in achieving the task of food security. Adoption of technology is also imperative for making agriculture activities profitable for the farmers and saving the environment from the adverse effect of harmful emissions.

Chapter 6: Agripreneurship and farm prosperity

Introduction 

Nearly 60% of India’s farmers are engaged in agriculture and contribute nearly 18% to the country’s GDP. The rise of agripreneurship in rural areas can offer various advantages like reducing the rural-urban divide, reduction of poverty, and generation of employment opportunities for millions living in rural areas. It also has the potential to drastically change the prospect of women and make them empowered in the rural landscape.

Agripreneurship is a branch of economic activities wherein the potential of agriculture is exploited for the generation of profit. India offers a very wide scope for agripreneurship since there is the availability of land, various reforms taking place in the field of agriculture and the government is taking adequate steps to promote startups in the country.

Scope of agripreneurship

  • The government is designing various policies and frameworks in order to encourage youngsters to look for employment opportunities in the field of agriculture.
  • Various microfinancing facilities are available in the markets for those who seek to develop a career in agriculture.
  • There is also low penetration of technology in the field of agriculture which makes it a very lucrative economic opportunity.
  • At the same time, various dimensions are available in the field of agriculture like dairying, sheeping, horticulture, organic farming, etc.
  • Various skill development programmes are initiated by the government in the field of agriculture. Once the individual acquires that skill, they can carry out business on their own.
  • Highly qualified individuals are looking up to agriculture for employment opportunities. It will create a revolution in this field.
  • The recent logistics policy of the government aims to reduce regulatory complexities and provide a level playing ground for every farmer. It will lead to the creation of positive sentiments in the market.

Agribusiness

Image Source: slideplayer.com

Role of Agripreneurship in the process of farm prosperity

  • It will help in increasing the productivity of small and marginal farmers by integrating them into national, international and local markets.
  • Improving the well-being of poor farmers through the creation of competitive agribusiness enterprises through technology development and commercialization.
  • Value addition and post-harvest management in the agri‑food sector through innovative processing and product development
  • It is also easier for agripreneurship to secure microfinance from the bank and use it for the purpose of starting startups.
  • It will help in reducing the challenges that agriculture faces in the field of supply chain networks and thus reducing the cost and waste.
  • It will also help in providing prior information to the farmers so that they can take their decisions accordingly.
  • Small farmers are not in a position to buy expensive agricultural equipment, thus entrepreneurship in this field would enable the small farmers to get these services on rent and thereby reduce their cost of production.
  • Moreover, agricultural activities in India were basically traditional and primitive with low induction of technology. But, the growth of entrepreneurship in this field would promote the induction of technology and enhancement of production.
  • Creating synergies through private sector partnerships. Substantial capital flow for commercialising agricultural technologies.
  • Goodwill in the local community and society for creating wealth and employment.
  • Ability to reduce the risk in the commercialization of Agri-technologies and improve its impact.
  • Developing collaborative research partnerships with public, private and allied sectors to benefit the smallholding farmers of dry land tropics across the agricultural and agribusiness value chain.

Women and agripreneurship 

  • Out of the total population that is engaged in agriculture, women constitute nearly 70% of the total population engaged in this sector.
  • These women play the role of primary food producers and dedicate most of their time to farm activities. But, most of their efforts go unnoticed.
  • Therefore, accessibility of agripreneurship to women can drastically change their position in the rural landscape and make them economically empowered so that they can make their own decisions.
  • It can purge women from many social stigmas like patriarchy, economic domination, poverty, hunger etc.

Conclusion: The path of AtmaNirbhar Bharat passes from the field of agriculture because it plays a cardinal role in providing employment opportunities to a large number of people in the country. Unless the agriculture sector is made profitable, the path of prosperity cannot be realised.

Chapter 7: Organic Farming

Background

  • Despite various challenges, registering a 3.6% growth rate of agriculture and allied sectors in 2020-21 is a significant achievement.
  • However, the growth rate of agriculture and allied sectors which was 6.8% in 2016-17 has come down to 3.6% within four years in 2020-21.
  • Further, the food grain production which was 50.82 million tonnes in 1950-51 has increased to 308.6 million tonnes in 2020-21 which is attributed to the Green Revolution and other research and development in the field.
    • However, indiscriminate and excessive use of chemicals, fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides has raised questions about the sustainability of agriculture and health hazards.
  • In this context, the idea of organic farming and its sustenance is to be examined from the point of view of the benefits and challenges and how to address the challenges.

Organic farming

organic farming

Image Source: GeoPard Agriculture

  • Organic farming or natural farming broadly refers to farming without the use of chemical fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides.
  • According to the Standing Committee of the Parliament “Organic Farming is based upon sound agronomic practices, crop rotation, use of farm land manure for biofertilizers and biopesticides for enhancing soil productivity and use of natural methods and biopesticides to control pests and weeds are important ways to avoid harmful impacts associated with chemical fertilisers and pesticides on agriculture and allied sectors”.
  • Organic farming not only adequately addresses issues of soil, ecology and human health but also gives impetus to sustainable agriculture.

Organic Farming Policy, 2005

  • Recognising the significance of organic farming, the Organic Farming Policy was introduced by the Government of India in 2005.
  • The Organic Farming Policy intends to promote technically sound, economically viable, environmentally non-degrading, and socially acceptable use of natural resources for organic farming.
  • The Policy seeks to actualise the area and crop potential for organic farming, sustaining soil fertility, conserving bioresources, strengthening the rural economy, promoting value addition, accelerating the growth of agribusiness and securing a fair standard of living for the farmers and agricultural workers and their families.
  • Key objectives:
    • Maintenance of soil fertility by encouraging and enhancing the biological cycle within farming systems
    • Identification of areas and crops suitable for organic farming
    • Development of an organic package of practices
    • Setting up model organic farms
    • Assurance of production and supply of quality organic input
    • Adoption of biological methods for pest and disease control

Programmes and Policies for Organic Farming

  • Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY): PKVY was implemented as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme initially for three years (2015-2017) but subsequently revised for the next 3 years.
    • The Scheme is implemented in a cluster fashion in size of 1000 ha in plain areas and 500 ha in hilly areas for better facilitation and marketing of organic produces.
    • All farmers are eligible but within a group, a farmer can avail of benefits up to a maximum of 2 ha and the limit of assistance is Rs.50,000 per ha.
    • The broad components of the scheme are implementation, handholding, capacity building and certification; Participatory Guarantee System certification; Incentive to farmers; Value addition, marketing and publicity.
    • Know more about Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana in the linked article.
  • Bharatiya Prakritik Krishi Paddhati (BPKP): BPKP has been designed to enhance farmers’ profitability, access to quality food and restoration of soil fertility and farmland ecosystem and employment thereby contributing to rural development.
    • BPKP is a sub-mission under the PKVY which falls within the umbrella of the National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture.
    • It aims at promoting traditional indigenous practices, which give freedom to farmers from externally purchased inputs.
  • Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER): is a Central Sector Scheme with an outlay of Rs, 400 crores for the North Eastern Region.  
    • Under the scheme, 159 Farmer Producer Companies have been formed and registered including 83,096 farmers and 79,445 ha of area.
  • Integrated Nutrition Management (INM) and Organic Farming: The INM and organic farming financial assistance are provided for mechanisation, promotion of biofertiliser testing labs, supporting research and establishing teaching institutions.

Recommendations by Standing Committee on Agriculture

  • Awareness building about the benefits of organic farming among different stakeholders
  • Continuous training, capacity building and handholding support to farmers
  • Farmers who are motivated to shift to organic farming must be adequately compensated
  • Marketing facilities should be arranged at the local level
  • Value addition in the organic produce should also be taken up at the local level
  • The shift of agriculture from inorganic to organic should be a component of a larger strategy for the betterment of health

Conclusion

In philosophical terms, organic farming denotes “farming in spirits of organic relationship between soil, water, plants”, this spirit of organism has to be propagated on a systematic and sustained basis for better outcomes and an effective Information, Education & Communication (IEC) strategy is required for the propagation of organic farming in the rural areas.

Chapter 8: Promoting Women Agripreneurship

Background

  • Since the launch of the Startup India initiative by the Government of India on 16 January 2016, the growth of start-ups and new-generation enterprises has been manifold.
  • However, the number of women participating in entrepreneurship activities has been relatively less for various reasons.
  • Women’s participation in economic activities is about 25%, while they constitute over 48% of the Indian population.
  • Forbes India Report 2019 indicated that Indian women leaders occupy about 30% of senior corporate leadership positions in India and India was ranked 113 out of 135 countries in gender equality in the overall workforce.
  • According to Global Women Entrepreneurs Leader Report 2015 by ACG Inc, India was ranked 29 out of 31 countries and similarly, World Bank’s India Development Report 2018 has revealed that India has one of the lowest female participation in the workforce globally, with a rank of 120 from among 131 countries.
  • Considering the above dimensions and ground realities, there is an urgent need to design institutional strategies to promote the ecosystem for promoting women entrepreneurship in general and women agripreneurship in particular.

Agripreneurship and Women Empowerment

  • Agripreneurship is a synthesis of agriculture, allied sectors and entrepreneurship to generate commercially-viable products and high-value.
  • Women entrepreneurs, especially women agripreneurs, represent the fastest-growing category of entrepreneurship worldwide.
  • Women play a vital role in the integrated development of agriculture and allied sectors, by adding considerable value to the transformation of society and powering robust growth of the rural economy in India.
  • As said by Dr. APJ. Abdul Kalam “empowering women is a prerequisite for creating a good nation, when women are empowered, society with stability is assured. Empowerment of women is essential as their thoughts and their value system lead to the development of a good family, good society and ultimately a good nation”.

Scope and Prospects for Promoting Women Agripreneurship

  • Like every other sector, the scope for women’s agripreneurship has been growing significantly.
  • At present, women in India contribute to about 14% of agri-business owners.
  • According to various estimates and survey findings, more than 1/3rd of the total Agri/rural start-ups are being managed by women agripreneurs, which is setting new benchmarks for viable and profitable business enterprises.
  • Recent studies and research have observed that women can start new agri-businesses which are catering to an entirely different market segment or unique and niche markets when compared to their male counterparts.
  • There is unlimited scope for promoting women agripreneurs because nearly 70% of agriculture and its allied activities are predominantly managed by women.
  • Women are expected to dominate the workforce trends and leadership positions in India in the upcoming few decades, and this trend is almost similar in the case of women agripreneurs, thereby supporting to improve India’s future by 2030.
  • Further, it can be observed that a significant number of Agri-based business opportunities have emerged recently in the agro-spheres such as agro-product processing, agri-based food packaging, export of fresh vegetables and fruits, organised retail-supply of agricultural semi-processed/processed products. This has got significant growth potential due to the enhanced availability of institutional micro-finance.

Scope for women in Agripreneurship

Public Policy Initiatives

  • Institutionalised initiatives for Promoting Agripreneurship: This novel scheme of agripreneurship is designed for effective implementation by the National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE), Hyderabad.
    • This scheme along with “Agri-Clinics and Agri-Business Centers Scheme” has given a considerable boost with financial and institutional support from the Ministry of Agriculture.
    • This system has been promoting and fast-tracking the prevailing process of both agri-extension activities and also the transfer of technology for agripreneurship enterprises.
  • Promoting Local Agripreneurs and Agri-Business Incubators (ABI’s): The Prime Minister of India has been emphasising the innovative practices and use of technology in agri-based and allied agri-sectors to nurture agri-business enterprises.
    • Organic retail stores, predominantly managed by women agripreneurs for a variety of agri-based products, have been set up with the government’s support.
  • Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY): It should be noted that through this scheme, the Government has been promoting agripreneurship by extending technical and financial support through State Agricultural Universities and ICAR Research Institutions.
    • These agri-startup entrepreneurs, including women agripreneurs, have been given structured training through Agri-Business Incubation (ABIs) centres.
  • NABARD Promoted Agri-Entrepreneurship Initiatives: The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) through its District Development Managers (DDMs) in all the districts across India has been managing a variety of agri-businesses and women agripreneurs enterprises.
  • Micro-Finance Institutions (MFIs): The microfinance movement, which started in Karnataka along with MYRADA (an NGO) has promoted and nurtured thousands of micro, small and medium women agripreneurs.
  • WeACT (Women Entrepreneurs Access Connect Transform): is a national-level network of women entrepreneurs, where the interventions undertaken are executed in collaboration with Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), Ahmedabad and Accenture Pvt. Ltd, along with many other partners.

Issues and Challenges

  • Even though the women agripreneurs are using their creativity, ability and hard work to prove their skills and competencies in current days of competition and volatility, they are facing more challenges and problems while starting the agri-enterprises and also during their management and growth phases.
  • Women agripreneurs face challenges such as dual responsibility of home and enterprises, serious threats from established corporate players, lack of knowledge/market awareness, lack of knowledge in branding, and required skill sets.
  • Further, women often do not get enough support from their families.
  • The fear of failure and low risk-taking capacity, also act as a deterrent to their growth.
  • The infrastructure challenges such as storage, warehousing, electricity and credit facility and finance continue to trouble the women agripreneurs.

Conclusion

Despite a spectrum of challenges, women agripreneurs have been emerging with resilience and agility in learning, adaptation to the market dynamics, and leveraging digital platforms.

Further, the Startup India Policy started in 2016 by the Government of India, has added a significant boost to the growth of start-ups and MSMEs in the agri-business domain which has also benefited the women agripreneurs significantly.

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