Print this article

Sustainable Agriculture and Twelfth Plan

Ajay K. Jha


Agriculture faces insurmountable challenges in times of climate change. While the rise in temperature and increasing carbon dioxide concentration, acidification of soil and water, rising sea level and reduced precipitation and water availability threaten farm production and productivity; agricultural production must be sustained to feed the growing population. The challenge is exceptional for developing tropical countries, including South Africa, Latin America and India. Many studies project significant decline in cereals and coarse grains in these areas (IPCC, 2007, Planning Commission, 2010). Agriculture and climate change is increasingly becoming an area of academic and general interest. Much of it is due to the fact that agriculture is source of 14% of global GHG emission. Along with deforestation and change is land use, it is source of more than 1/3rd to total GHG emission. Majority of these emissions are located in developing countries having high dependence on agriculture. More than 35 developing countries identify agriculture as main sector to focus their emission reduction efforts through NAMAs (PAIRVI, 2011). While the reduction of emission in agriculture may be a desirable goal it has be approached in a manner which does not compromise with food production and food security in developing countries. Current discourse on agriculture and climate change fails to create a distinction between highly mechanized export oriented agriculture in developed countries and low carbon subsistence agriculture in developing countries. By focusing on mitigation in agriculture (predominantly through soil sequestration) rather than adaptation; it threatens not only food security but also sovereignty of small farmers in developing countries on their land and choices and means of production (PAIRVI 2011). India owes 17% of its GHG emission to agriculture and allied activities (GOI, 2010). The position of India is not clear on the issue of mitigation and adaptation in agriculture. While GOI supports “no mandatory mitigation in agriculture” (Nitin Sethi, 2012), the government itself does not seem to be too sure about its position. The National Mission on Sustainable agriculture, which is a part of the NAPCC and lays down the government’s vision on agriculture and climate change and has various references to mitigation of emission in the National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture.1 What is more worrying that NMSA does not bring new insights and commitments to support adaptation. After more than three years of its being approved, it is once again in the discussion as it has been declared to launch the NMSA during the 12th Five Year Plan (Planning Commission, 2011).

National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture

The NMSA seeks to address issues regarding ‘Sustainable Agriculture’ in the context of risks associated with climate change by devising appropriate adaptation and mitigation strategies for ensuring food security, equitable access to food resources, enhancing livelihood opportunities and contributing to economic stability at the national level (DAC, 2010). The NMSA correctly identifies the risk that India agriculture faces from climate change impacts. A one degree Celsius rise in mean temperature would likely to affect wheat yield in the heartland of green revolution (Planning Commission, 2010). There is already evidence of negative impacts on yield of wheat and paddy in parts of India due to increased temperatures, increasing water stress and reduction in the number of rainy days. Crop specific simulation studies, though not conclusive due to inherent limitations, project a significant decrease in cereal production by the end of this century (DAC, 2010). Parts of western Rajasthan, southern Gujarat,

1 The GOI declared the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) in June 2008 laying down 8 missions including National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture. The document of NMSA does not provide any information on who has drafted the document, when and how it was drafted

2 Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Northern Karnataka, Northern Andhra Pradesh, and Southern Bihar are likely to be more vulnerable in times of extreme events. Irrigation requirements in arid and semiarid regions are estimated to increase by 10% for every 10C rise in temperature (DAC, 2010)

Thrust and focus areas

The NMSA has four thrust areas, dry land agriculture, risk management, access to information and use of biotechnology. It also identifies ten mission interventions based on different dimensions of mitigation and adaptation. Ten mission interventions are laid down as, Improved crop seeds, livestock and fish culture, water use efficiency, pest management, improved farm practices, nutrient management, agriculture insurance, credit support, markets, access to information, and livelihood diversification. These mission interventions are further broken down in a Programme of Action (PoA) focused on (i) research and development, (ii) technology, products and practices, (iii) infrastructure, and (iv) capacity building. The PoA identifies existing interventions and scope for their scaling up, and also new initiatives.

While for 3 years since its approval NMSA has remained dormant for want of support. Now with the 12th FYP, NMSA is back on the agenda. However, one fails to understand what is new in the brew.

It follows the same old approach of diversification of crop, focus on dryland agriculture, technology integration, livelihood diversification, water use efficiency, improved farm practices, pest management, research and development, access to information, risk and insurance coverage and renewed vigour for biotechnology application etc, which have been a dominant discourse in agricultural planning in India for at least a decade, without much outcome. Farmers in rainfed areas have been battling similar conditions for years together. End of the last three plan periods have recorded lower mean rainfall and higher rainfall variability compared to the immediately previous period. (GOI, 2012). The only new thing is the narrative on the climate change. One fails to understand how it will support agricultural adaptation, which is largely autonomous, and help farmers and livestock bearing the brunt of the changing climate. Till now rainfed farming has been equated with watershed development (GOI, 2012, WG on NRM and Rainfed Ag), and NMSA fails to take it beyond that. Some areas of concern in the NMSA are discussed below:

High on GM song

The over enthusiasm of the mission with agriculture biotechnology is pervasive and perturbing. The Mission proposes BT as panacea for all problems of agriculture. GE is likely to take care of all crop requirements viz. resilience for drought and submergence, salinity tolerance, improved nitrogen fixation, and water efficiency. This is fraught with serious concerns for loss of potentially useful genetic biodiversity, when this diversity is critically needed for coping strategies. This also carries high risk of farmers losing control to monopolization by a handful of biotechnology companies, as has already happened with the cotton crop, with genetically modified Bt cotton constituting over 92% of all cotton grown in India. Not only the mission proposes GE/BT as panacea for all crop improvements, it also proposes the dangerous idea of genetic engineering in livestock, fisheries, poultry and microbes. Many of the geneticists in India still feel that agri biotech is still a science which should be in the laboratory, rather than in our lives. It proposes to convert C3 crops into C4 crops for improved photosynthesis. People who know genetics say that converting C3 crops into C4 crops might take more than hundred years!2 Using existing C4 crops like maize and millets might be better idea, they insist. Besides, GM the mission is also high on technology. In the guise of technology, products and practices, the focus lie in promoting tractors, laser land levelers, drip and sprinklers and many such technologies, 2 Based on the presentation of Dr. Suman Sahai, Convener of Gene Campaign, in National Consultation on Agriculture and Climate change; State Responses, organized by PAIRVI dated 2nd and 3rd November, 2010. 3 which have become irrelevant in states like Punjab and Haryana where they have failed to boost falling productivity due to extremely poor soil health and water table. Technological solutions to be adopted should be cost effective, easily accessible and relevant for the small and marginal farmers who comprise more than 80% of farming community in India. The mission proposes “financial support to enable farmers to invest in and adopt relevant technologies to overcome climate related stresses.” If that is a suggestion to promoting harvesters and laser land levelers to farmers who do not have even a hoe and sickle; the idea needs to be reviewed.

Mitigation Vs. Adaptation

The Mission document is replete with the references on the “need to reduce emission in agriculture.” It goes on to admit “in accordance with India’s proposed target of reducing GHG intensity by 20-25% till the end of 2020, the mission acknowledges the need to reduce emission from the agricultural sector.” (DAC, 2010). The strategies suggested are mainly through improved crop varieties, use of bio-fertilizers, SRI, and improving dietary practices in livestock. While mitigation in agriculture emissions do not need to be trashed altogether, it is relevant to know, how this dominant discourse has evolved and what has been the global experience on these solutions. This is a tangent taken directly from international negotiations on agriculture and climate change. Two important reasons attributing this are slump in the price of carbons, which carbon trade champions hope to revive through delving into soils. Secondly, as 80% global emissions are already “locked in” mitigation of emissions from agriculture becomes a compulsion. (IEA, 2010). Operational and technical difficulties abound in the projects exploring soil carbon sequestration and farmers who have been lured with carbon credits are getting fast disillusioned (IATP, 2012).3

A growing body of both practitioners’ and experts’ research have been able to debunk these myths associated with the so-called climate smart agriculture. The current focus on soil carbon sequestration (mainly with the objective of generating finances through private participation) will definitely spell the doom for small and marginal farmers in least developed and developing countries.

In countries like India, where majority of the farmers (more than 80%) posses a land holding smaller than 2 ha, the rush for sequestration will lead to them losing their lands, sovereignty over their produce, choice and means of production to the greedy private project developers lurking on the horizon (PAIRVI 2012). While mitigation of Methane (CH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N2O) emission in agriculture and livestock might be a good idea in developed and industrialized agriculture, it’s almost irrelevant in developing countries with small scale farming systems. What is critically needed in these countries is adaptation support for which fast track, transparent, reliable and accessible finance must be made available at the earliest.

Skewed Financial allocations

The NMSA lays down requirement of INR 1,08,000 crore up to the end of the 12th FYP. The Mission also declares that a major portion (60%) would be utilized to adopt technology, products and practices. Infrastructure development and R&D together will be allocated 35% of the total resources, whereas 3 Some of the pilot projects on soil carbon sequestration under different voluntary carbon market schemes have run into problems ranging from technological handicaps, below par standards and financial inadequacy and unavailability. Farmers lured into these on false promises, have been hugely disappointed and disillusioned. In Kenya, where 20000 farmers were aggregated in world bank promoted pilot programme, and were promised unspecified amount of money, have not yet received a single penny, owing to the problems in assessment of soil carbon. A similar agroforestry project in India, promoted by world Bank’s Biocarbon facility project has also run into problems, with farmers bringing complaints before the Inspection Panel alleging delay on the part of project developers causing them financial losses. 4 about 5% of allocation will be deployed for capacity building. This means technology, products and practices receive 65,000 crore including INR 37,500 on water use efficiency, micro irrigation and efficient water management (read drip and sprinklers), infrastructure receive INR 14,500 crore (including paltry 4000 crore on loan holiday to farmers in case of extreme events), INR 6500 crore on R&D (read Biotechnology) and INR 500 crore on capacity building. It is obvious that these financial allocations have not been made in consultation with farming communities and have completely misplaced focus. There is hardly any adaptation support for the farmers in the mission. The Working Group on Environment and Climate Change scaled down the financial support to be allocated to the NMSA to 12-15,000 crore every year (GOI, 2011).

Other concerns in the NMSA

While there is an urgent need for scaling up investment in dryland agriculture, the NMSA does not provide much headway into that. There is also inadequate emphasis on livestock management beyond improving dietary practices to reduce emission from enteric fermentation. Common property resources and development of pastures, which can be a good livestock management strategy is completely unattended. So are millets, which are existing abundant C4 gene pool that has the country has. Pest management talks of judicious use of chemical pesticide, only pays a lip service to promotion of biopesticides and falls far short of committing NPM. Scant respect is paid to bio-fertilizers. Improved farm practices, lack support to organic farming and commitment to agro-ecological approach, which has been already discussed a lot as most climate efficient farming (IAASTD, 2011) also do not fare better. Access to information is mainly leveraged to support markets, rather than farmers through minimizing information asymmetry and inviting PPP in technology based solution. The three tier institutional structure proposed for management and implementation does not have place for farmers.

Agriculture in the 12th Plan

The NMSA and 12th Plan are temporally removed from each other by more than three years; however, now that NMSA is a part of the 12th FYP, it must be seen and analyzed in the context of the 12th Plan and its imperatives. The 12th Plan aims at “faster, sustainable and more inclusive growth” (@ 8% pa., as revised in Feb 2013), focus areas are attracting investment through FDI, agriculture and manufacturing. The 12th Plan aims at achieving a growth rate of 4% pa in agriculture as against a growth rate of 3.3% pa achieved during the last FYP and 2.4% in the 10th FYP. The focus in agriculture in “…viability of farm enterprise, mostly small farms..,” and other priorities are “resource use efficiency, technology and better delivery of services like credit, animal health and quality inputs like seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and farm machinery.” It also seeks to  address regional imbalance through extending green revolution to eastern states and rainfed areas. 12th Plan adopts an approach which will have serious implications on small farmers, food security, and will bring about fundamental changes in the positioning of agriculture in the country’s economy. The Plan is primarily focused on taking agriculture from primary to secondary sector. A number of concerns related to food production, public investment, land alienation, well being of small farmers, undermining importance of cereals, adaptation support to insulate agriculture from climate change impacts, focus on rain fed farming, and agro-ecological approaches are relegated to the background. The obsession with farm mechanization, agri- biotechnology and genetic modification, chemical pesticides, and reducing dependence on agriculture (without providing alternatives) reveal considerations that might not be located in analysis of state of agriculture in the country. Few major concerns related to positioning and direction of agriculture are discussed below: 5

Exit small farmers; enter farmers producers organizations (FPOs)

The approach paper to 12th Plan assays peak of the criminalization of small farmers for having marginal land holdings. While laying emphasis on “viability of farm enterprise and focus on small farms”, the solution that it provides is a regrettable one. It encourages small farmers to leave agriculture and lease their lands land banks, which can be leased further to women’s groups of farmers cooperatives. The idea of taking surplus population out of agriculture might be a relevant one, what is being promoted is compelling people out of agriculture without providing them an alternative. Millions of people leaving  agriculture are either to work under MGNREGA or swell the ranks of slum dwellers in the cities!

Clearly  rather than well being of small farmers and incentivizing their enterprise, the dominant obsession is to cooperativize farmers. An array of changes in the Tenancy and Land Lease Acts and APMC Act, are being proposed to make this idea a workable one. The targeted approach of cooperativization of farmers will leave majority of them outside without any serious effort to address their concerns, and herding of farmers in cooperatives may also equally lead to their further marginalization and lack of sovereignty. The “lands will not be given to corporate entities,” declares the plan defensively, revealing that the government itself is apprehensive of influential food industry and land grab sharks getting into the business.

No to cereals and yes to food industry

The approach paper also declares that focus of agricultural production will have to shift from cereal to  pulses, horticulture, and value addition through food processing. It declares that we have enough food  grains reserve to cater to the supply by the end of the 12th Plan. The projected growth rate of cereals in the 12th FYP is pegged at 2.2% pa. This is despite the fact that latest NSSO data clearly shows decline in food grains consumption through the last two decades not only in urban but also rural areas, which has serious implications for food and nutrition security (NSSO, 66th round). The plan explains that increased  MSP and procurement of food grains, adversely affected the market availability of the food grains, increasing their prices. It clearly misses the moot point that main reason of food price inflation is due to  flawed distribution, rather than increased production of food grain. Another reason it provides is related to the storage cost of the food grains, which again makes one to argue why the government is obsessed with storage of food grains beyond its capacity rather than to increase the quantum provided through the PDS. The share of horticulture and livestock has been increasing constantly in the ag GDP requiring special efforts to sustain this growth and contribution in diversification, however, this does not necessarily have to be in conflict with food grains, when the govt itself admits that more than 50% of calorie intake requirement is fulfilled by the food grains, and expenditure on food grains has declined as poor spend in nonfood needs. The Plan also argues that “ MSP Policy should be more restrained for rice and wheat and made more effective in case of pulses and oilseeds….” The paper lacks synergy between food production and food security. The government seems to be increasingly convinced with first world definition of food security which focuses primarily on “availability of food in the market.” The PDS, the cash transfer based on UIDAI are the silver bullet solutions which the plan provides for food security. Increasing focus on food processing also needs to be understood in the context of the fact that food processing industries are lobbying hard for subsidies in agriculture (Rahul Goswami, 2012). This implies, meaning that processed food will be treated at par with food grown in farms and will avail government subsidy. Increased emphasis on food processing might well be a platform to introduce policy changes favouring food processing with the lion’s share going to food industry.

Undermining alienation of agricultural land

6 A severe limitation in agriculture in India is non availability of surplus arable land (GOI, 2009). This implies that food production will have to be sustained mainly through increase in productivity. However, it also implies that there should be effective restraint on alienation of agricultural land. Studies also suggest that additional 11 million ha agricultural land may be required to sustain food production for rising population and meet climate change challenge (Mc Kinsey, 2011). Despite this fact agricultural land continues to be diverted to non-agricultural purposes. A total of 3 million ha of agricultural land (much of this multi cropping) has been diverted to non agricultural use since 1990-91, out of which 2 million ha has been diverted in the past decade (GOI, 2011). While admitting, the plan tries to make light of this fact by stating “industrialization, urbanization and development generally will require a diversion of land to new uses,” and that “it is only 0.6% of the total net sown area.”

Investment in agriculture

The Mission and the 12th Plan both have placed substantial faith in private investment in agriculture. However, it needs to be understood and increasing global investment in agriculture have mostly focused on production of major raw crops including oilseeds & corn for agro-fuel production, wheat and feed grains for livestock. The trend shows a definite inclination towards forcing agricultural production to oil seeds, agro fuels and meat production. In India, private investment in agriculture though increasing has been mainly in labour saving farm mechanization and micro irrigation.4 (Planning Commission, 2011). The 12th Plan seeks to attract investment in back end infrastructure including food processing, warehousing, rural connectivity), insurance products and much of it is being expected in the form of FDI in retail.

Resource use efficiency debate to justify removal of subsidies on water, fertilizer and power

The Plan devotes lengthy debates on justifying resource use efficiency in water, fertilizer and power. It is known fact that lot of public investment in the form of subsidies is ill targeted encouraging wasteful use of these resources. However, there removal will have to be strategized. The plan proposes that deregulation of urea prices can be  compensated by 5-10% extra rise in the MSP. Farmers have alleged that MSP Policy needs to be reviewed in view of rising input costs and reducing farm incomes, which has hardly remained remunerative. The Farmers Commission recommended that “the MSP should be at least 50% more than the weighted average cost of production” (DAC, 2006). Removal of subsidies might require review of suggested increase in the MSP.

Glorifying GMOs

The plan also glorifies the GMOs despite the fact that Parliamentary Committee on agriculture and a Committee appointed by the Supreme Court emphasized concerns with GM Policy and demanded a precautionary approach till there are appropriate regulations in place. Citing the “Bt cotton success story” the plan states “with more than 90% of cotton area now under Bt hybrids, and cotton yields more than doubling over the last decade, there is no doubt either about the general farmer acceptance or its being a clear case of technological transformation unlike other rainfed crops….” It also argues “it is therefore, time to put in place impeccable operational protocols and a regulatory mechanism to permit GMOs when they meet rigorous tests that can outweigh misgivings, while simultaneously noting that many feasible advances in biotechnology do not in fact involve GMOs.” If it’s a suggestion to pursue BRAI Bill pending in the Parliament, the Bill obviously fails to put such kind of impeccable mechanism in place. 4 Private investment in farm mechanization has been mainly through increased investment on production of tractors, laser land levelers, combined harvesters, Rotavators etc. in Micro irrigation it implies drip and sprinklers 7

Lip service to rainfed farming

Agricultural planning has for decades equated dryland farming with watersheds (Planning Commission, 2011). The NMSA and 12th Plan though talk about addressing regional imbalances and rainfed agriculture; however, there is nothing is the approach paper or the NMSA, which goes beyond watershed and “rainfall use efficiency.” The wisdom to turn towards rainfed areas supposedly comes from the recent better performance in these areas. The Mid Term Appraisal of the 11th Plan noted that the recovery in agriculture after 2004 was associated with clear signs of renewed dynamism in the rainfed areas (Planning Commission, 2009). The recent growth revival has been weak in areas with high land productivity, not only in relatively more irrigated states such as Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and west Bengal that had green revolution success, but also in less irrigated states such as Kerala,, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir where high productivity reflects a high value cropping pattern based on horticulture. Even Gujarat, a low productivity state that sustained near 10% growth for almost a decade through better water use and rapid adoption of the Bt cotton hybrids, slowed down perceptibly  in the eleventh plan as Bt adoption saturated and yields reached a plateau,” the plan explains. The best  performing states in the 11th plan have been Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, all with above 5% growth. Now that the poster boy states of the green revolution are wilting under the weight of overuse of  chemical pesticides, single minded pursuit of hybrid monoculture, over extraction of ground water, rapidly declining soil health, and saturation in adoption of the touted technologies, the planners are decide to bring these misfortune in rainfed areas exactly on the same path laid down in the heartland of the green revolution.

Making little of climate change concerns

The 12th Plan response to agriculture and climate change concerns is too weak to insulate agriculture from impacts.

The only solution provided is NMSA, which actually does nothing except for  acknowledging the impact and probable impact of climate change on Indian agriculture.

Besides, NMSA the Plan only talks about improving weather data availability further and increasing weather index based insurance coverage. It also talks about “insights” generated by NICRA, however, fails to elaborate on these insights. NICRA under ICAR and coordinated by CRIDA was initiated in Feb. 2011 in 100 selected districts to strengthen climate resilient agriculture through strategic research, technology demonstration, capacity building, and expanding weather data availability (NICRA, 2012). The results are yet to be seen on the ground. As regards the weather information availability, the farmers in the rainfed areas have fared no better even during 2011-2012. The IMD prediction not only about the arrival of timing of monsoon but prediction of normal monsoon affected millions of farmers, though not as badly  as in 2009 (Beyond Copenhagen, 2012). In fact development of rainfed areas lie more in the realm of Ministry of Water Resources, than Ministry of Agriculture, which is only mandated look into minor irrigation (Planning Commission, 2011). Crop insurance can be a good adaptation strategy. However, beginning with 1972 with the formation of GIC, through Comprehensive Crop Insurance Scheme (1985-86), and NAIS (1999-2000) the crop insurance scheme has been able to cover less than 1/5th of the farmers. The much talked about WBCIS has been in operation since 2003 (on Pilot basis) but is yet to have provided significant succor to farmers facing vagaries of weather. The expectations of inviting PPP in have been belied with participation of ICICI Lombard at much limited scale. As variability in the monsoon increases, crop insurance is likely to get less attractive for private players. WBCIS which was initiated in India in 2003 is becoming popular in the South Asia Region (FAO, 2011). However, to attract private actors, it is necessary to improve the weather station infrastructure throughout the country. 8

Mission on agriculture in SAPCCs

While most of the states acknowledge importance of agriculture in terms of contribution to state’s economy, food security, and livelihoods, lot of them propose actions which are dangerous. Manipur Plan talks about “modern scientific agriculture,” MP proposes “modernization of agriculture, increased use of biotechnology.” While West Bengal and Rajasthan both also propose “zero tillage agriculture,” Rajasthan includes “exploring carbon sequestration potential of carbon deficient soil” and “increased use of biotechnology.” Odisha failed to allocate single Rupee to agriculture! Uttarakhand SAPCC has financial planning, targets etc. for agri. Many states talk about agro fuel plantations. Most of the states do not have timelines, financial targets, and no idea on how these resources would be mobilized.5 The way in which SAPCCs have been approached and prepared, given sufficient idea on the intent of the states to promote low carbon development pathways. Primarily a Consultant driven process, there is very little ownership of these Plans by the state governments, which see SAPCC as another Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS). While devising SAPCC, states did not have the understanding that much of the resources required will have to be provided through existing programmes and schemes and their convergence. The Ministry of Environment and Forest, which the nodal ministry for Climate Change Policies, was late in declaring that states will get only fraction of the amount that they expect from the central government (Planning Commission, 2010)

What the NMSA must do differently

The aftermath of green revolution and climate change impacts strongly argue in favour of agroecological  approaches including mixed farming, integrated farming, organic farming etc (IAASTD, 2011)The current input intensive production systems based on single minded pursuit of monoculture and hybrids, biotechnology, and mechanization needs serious overhaul. The approach to sustainability of agriculture must be based on diversified production models including crops, livestock, fisheries, poultry and agro-forestry, Conserving genetic bio-diversity of crops and livestock and knowledge associated it in partnership with communities. The approach needs to put the household agriculture sustainability and food security in the centre rather than making yet another bound to fail efforts to centralize agriculture, production, and distribution and management systems. Some steps which may move us towards sustainable, safe and ecologically sound production system (without being exhaustive) are listed below:

Focus on rain fed farming: The working group on NRM and rain fed agriculture pitched strongly in favor of a National Rain fed Farming Agency (NRFA,) which provides oversight on all programs in rain fed areas and synthesizes learning. The NRAA can be restructured into such an Agency. It also proposed three core programmes including National Rain fed Farming Program: to be taken up in 1000 blocks across different agro-ecological typologies in rain fed areas, Creation of ‘Rain fed Investment Windows’ in all relevant mainstream programs of various ministries, with flexibility to follow different guidelines (as may be detailed by the NRFA) for rain fed areas, and Supportive Policy Action’ Specific budgetary allocations for the Agency to carry out detailed analysis of the policy changes needed for the new paradigm. This is to facilitate such discussion with state governments, provide support in drafting policies (decision about appropriate policy, instruments, policy process and outcome mapping etc.). 5 Much Ado about Climate Change; State Action Plans are business as usual, PAIRVI, 2011. These are the reflections based on first draft of the SAPCCs or respective states. In some of the revised drafts explicit mention of soil carbon sequestration and promotion to GMOs have been removed.9

Emphasis on decentralization planning: RKVY provided an opportunity to decentralize agricultural planning in the 11th FYP. However, the opportunity was wasted despite substantial expenditure (Rs. 10 lakh per district). The emphasis on decentralized planning should not be allowed to slip through a process of further incentives and disincentives. The working group advocated to take Development ‘Block/Taluk/Mandal’ as a unit for programmatic action as it is a manageable unit for planning implementation and convergence of various programs and human resources into a new framework. Decentralization in agriculture planning is important to promote food security systems based on local production, procurement and distribution based on local diversity of food grains and specific conditions.

Investing in strengthening local food systems The WG also asked for a paradigm shift in the approach including promoting “Strengthening diverse local production systems to contribute substantially to the local food and nutrition, and income security”. Which calls for “Moving away from the present centrally determined approach of single commodity intensification to location specific farming systems intensification approach,” and “moving away from viewing growth as per ha or per animal (single commodity) productivity to system productivity and household income growth, and finally “building food security systems (including decentralized PDS) based on locally adapted food crops.” It is now a travesty of idea to think of a centralized food production system, and high time to invest in moving towards a more sustainable production system based on local circumstances and preferences, and having participation of relevant local groups.

Support to adaptation and timely provision of inputs, information, post harvest management: The achievement in production and productivity is being threatened to be reversed or at least challenged seriously due to climate change impacts. The agricultural research has till now largely neglected the traditional knowledge in agriculture. Traditional knowledge in agriculture has been the source for best practices of adaptation, which has been taking place completely autonomously. Many of the state governments are also supporting maladaptation by promoting organic farming with chemical pesticides and fertilizers (PAIRVI, 2012). There is an urgent need to look out for best practices, their documentation and sharing among the larger farming community. The flexibility under RKVY can be utilized to have a pilot project on best practices in agricultural adaptation bringing out successful crop based, irrigation based, traditional technology based, and livestock based adaptation in public knowledge. The farmers dependant on monsoon are historically starved for quality seeds at appropriate time, weather information, and post harvest facilities. It is advisable that significant  investment be made in these critical areas rather than waiting for public private partnership to happen. While private sector seed companies have benefitted immensely from research on new variant, public seed system have failed to capitalize. There is an urgent need to improve research outcomes on new variants and its delivery to farmers. Weather information network and its delivery, especially short range weather information, needs to lifted substantially with the help of mobile telephony, to be able to benefit the farmer and enable him to adapt to weather conditions. Much of the advantages of diversification in agriculture remain to reach the farmers due to post harvest losses and lack of processing, transportation and marketing facilities. Private investment in infrastructure can be only enhanced with a marked development in critical infrastructure.

Improved credit, risk and insurance: Recent data on agricultural credit show a declining trend in priority sector lending, decreasing number of rural bank branches, and increasing proportion of credit lending to big farmers (Pallavi Chavan, 2010). A strategy needs to undertaken to reverse these trends, in the coming plan period and provide adequate credit facilities to small farmers. Coverage of risk through insurance strengthens farmers resilience to weather shocks. The coverage must expand to reach larger farming community through developing new user friendly insurance products. The government must 10 take proactive steps in insurance coverage expansion through weather index based insurance, to either take increased responsibility or trigger commensurate private investment.

Commitment to non pesticidal management and promotion to bio-fertilizers: The government must  have a clear position on Non pesticidal management and promotion to biofertilizers. A part of the subsidy withdrawn on urea might be utilized to promote biofertilizers and organic farming.

Commitment to non alienation of agricultural land and promotion of Common Property Resources:

Agriculture and livestock systems in rainfed areas are integrally linked to common property resources (CPRs), which also help promote biodiversity in many ways. The agriculture policies must commit nonalienation of agricultural land, and support to CPRs, and reversal of encroachment of CPRs as far as possible.

Review of NMSA and improved consideration to agriculture and water in State Action Plans on climate

change: In its current form NMSA fails to emphasize appropriate priorities. It is advised to review it to be able to provide an architecture for fundamental changes in agriculture and especially rainfed farming. It should rather have a long term vision to transform agriculture from intensive inputs based production to agro-ecological production systems with a strong willingness to invest in strengthening local food security which is more sustainable and climate resilient.


1. Climate Change and India: A 4X4 Assesment - A sectoral and regional analysis for 2030s, New Delhi, 16th November, 2010, Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment, Ministry of Environment and Forests

2. Agricultural insurance in Asia and the Pacific region, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, 2011

3. Agriculture in Climate Change Negotiations, COP 17 discussion paper, PAIRVI, 2011

4. Agroecology and the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on Right to food,2011 through

5. Annual Report 2009-2010, DAC, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India

6. Annual Report 2010-2011, DAC, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India

7. Approach Paper on Agriculture in 12th Five Year Plan, Planning Commission, GOI, 2011

8. Critical Failures of Indian Weather Prediction in a Climate Challenged World, Soumya Dutta, Peasant Farming in Crisis, COP 18 Publication, PAIRVI, 2012

9. Food and Agriculture: Trends in India into the early Twelfth Plan period, Rahul Goswami, 2012

10. How Rural is India’s Agricultural Credit? Pallavi Chavan, the Hindu, August 12, 2010 through

11. India fights off cuts on agricultural emissions, Nitin Sethi, TNN, Dec 3, 2012, Delhi

12. Fourth Assessment Report, IPCC, 2007

13. Mc Kinsey Global Institute, India’s urban awakening; building inclusive cities, sustaining economic growth, 2011

14. Mid Term Appraisal of the 11th Five Year Plan, Planning Commission, 2009 11

15. Myth of Climate Smart Agriculture, PAIRVI, 2012

16. National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture, Govt of India, 2010



Write A Comment