UPSC Mains General Studies Paper – 3 Mains 2020
- In Introduction, try to write about the rice-wheat system.
- In Body,
- Discuss factors responsible for making the rice-wheat system a success.
- Discuss how this system is responsible for creating issues/bane.
- Try to conclude with a way forward.
Green Revolution in India, provides the package of technology and policies that produced quick results in increasing food grain production (mainly Wheat & Rice). This enabled India to move from a country facing a severe shortage of staple food to becoming self-sufficient. Both, the Rice-Wheat system is the cornerstone of India’s food self-sufficiency. There are many factors that can be attributed to the successful production of Rice and wheat in the country.
Factors responsible for making Rice-Wheat system a success:
- State Guarantee For Production: Procurement of marketed surplus of paddy (rice) and wheat at Minimum Support Price (MSP) completely insulated farmers against any price or market risks. At the same time, it ensured a reasonably stable flow of income from these two crops.
- Improved Technologies and access to same: Technologies played a very important role in the rise of the rice-wheat system. Important role in success of green revolution and introduction of HYV seeds, zero tillage, bed planting, direct seeding etc Improved production of wheat and rice and responsible for making the rice-wheat system a success. Later on, the same seeds became accessible for all farming communities.
- Role of Input Subsidies: Public and private investments in water and land and input subsidies were the other favorable factors.
- Food preferences: Rice and wheat are core food preferences in India. So, farmers with low land holding/ subsistence farming produce rice and wheat for their own consumption.
- Fertilizers: Use of Neem coated urea and biofertilizers improved the production of wheat and rice systems.
- Organic farming: It is a new concept gaining ground in agriculture because of the rising level of demand for organic foods in the market. It is also being followed in production of wheat, rice.
Problems with success of Rice-Wheat system:
- Ecological Effects: Policy of free power for pumping out groundwater for irrigation led to the depletion of groundwater resources. Similarly, air pollution due to crop residue burning in states like UP, Punjab and Haryana. Loss of biodiversity due to excessive use of hybrid seeds and fertilizers. Punjab and Haryana are already notified as over exploited zones of groundwater
- Income and productivity: Rise in labour charges and exposure to global markets led to fall in incomes of farmers cultivating rice and wheat. The productivity is also very less compared to international standards( Around 1/2 of China and 1/3rd of Africa).
- Fiscal Challenge: In India, the per capita intake of rice and wheat is declining and consumers’ preference is shifting towards other foods. However, rice and wheat procurement in the country has more than doubled after 2006-07.
- Degradation of Soil: Due to increased demand of rice and wheat farmers are taking 2 to 3 crops in year which results in exhausting soil nutrients, both macro and micro, and these nutrients are compensated through excessive fertilizers use, and soils are becoming saline further increasing desertification etc.
- Entrepreneurial Skills of Farmers: Procurement of almost the entire market arrivals of rice and wheat at MSP for more than 50 years has affected the entrepreneurial skills of farmers to sell their produce in a competitive market where prices are determined by demand and supply and competition.
- Alternative to Wheat & Rice: Farmers must be provided alternative choices to keep their income growing. • Move towards high-paying horticulture crops requires institutional arrangements on price assurance such as contract farming.
- Strong Forward & Backward Linkages: Promotion of food processing in formal and informal sectors is a big push to post-harvest value addition and modern value chains. Direct link of production and producers to consumers and consumers can be created without involving intermediaries.
Though the rice-wheat system has solved the food problem and made India from a food deficient country to food surplus country. But it has created several issues which need to be addressed to make the rice wheat system production sustainable. It is the need of the hour to implement the recommendations given by the National Farmers’ Commission under the leadership of M.S. Swaminathan which aims to make agriculture a source of income and employment along with a comprehensive and sustainable shift in agricultural practices.
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