Agriculture : The Lone Survivor

Apart from the enormous consequence of coronavirus on the human life which claimed more than 1.75 million lives worldwide and infected more than 75 million people, COVID 19 also demolished economies around the globe. Amongst the most badly affected nation was India, which recorded more than 1 crore case and a lakhs deaths and counting. While this sounds bad, visuals of lakh and lakh of migrant workers waking back thousands and thousand of kilometers on foot made the situation worse. If this was not the end of misery Indian economy shrinks by 23.9 percentage point in the first quarter of FY 2020-21 lowest since independence. Every sector of economy from manufacturing to industries and even services tanked except one : Agriculture and allied services which recorded growth 3.4 percentage point at constant prices. Agriculture and allied services contributes nearly 16 % to country GDP while providing employment to 42 % of the workforces.

Several economical and agriculture expert had the views that had there been slummed in agriculture and allied services, things would have been much worse. Agriculture provided employment to the migrated worker who returned to there home and provided them with some earning in these apocalyptic times. Such was its importance and necessity that it was the first sectors to get relaxation from nationwide lockdown for manufacturing and transportation of agriculture input, seeds, machine, etc. Supply chains related to agriculture goods and services were allowed to function with protective measures in place. Efforts paid the dividend a sharp increase of 5.7% in area coverage of Kharif crops was registered as on September 2020. Amid good monsoon and adequate water storage in the winter reservoir for Rabi crops the Government of India set an all time high record for food production target of 301 million tons for 2020-21.

When the prime minister Modi announced nationwide lockdown, the immediate consequence was the mass exodus of migrant labourer from virtually every part of country to there rural household and faces an immediate risk of hunger and livelihood. So government announced a number of schemes for them. Government released an advance installment of Rs. 2000 from PM- KISAN scheme, wage rate of worker were increased and number of days of guarantee work was increased to 150 days under NAREGA. Under the economic stimulus package, credit support for small farmer were announce through various institution like NABARD was extending additional support of Rs. 30,000 crore for crop loan through RRB(Region Rural Bank) and other institutions. Nearly 25 lakhs new Kisan credit cards were sanctioned with a loan limit of Rs. 25000 at a minimal rate of interest were provided to not just farmer but also to one belonging fisheries, animal husbandries and agriculture allied services. The timely credit stimulus helped thousand of farmers and laborer to sustain themselves during such a tough times. A new scheme under the name of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana was launched to take care poor and vulnerable section of society. In order to boost the rural economy, Indian Railways launched Krishi Rail scheme for transportation and building a seamless supply chain of perishable product like milk, fruits, fish etc. It is benefitting farmer from all around the country as they will be able to sell there product all around the country.

In addition to the schemes and relaxation, good monsoon season and tremendous efforts of our farmers and workers help agriculture to stay afloat at a most delicate point in our economic history. These schemes and announcement might seems be rewarding but not a solution for a sector which is on a downward trend for quiet a few years and the news of suicides of farmer reported daily. There is a need for a comprehensive long term vision and policy with huge investment not just on agriculture and its subsidiaries but also on the farmer. When agriculture and its allied sector will grow at a great pace so will rural economies of our countries and in process increasing the income of farmers and laborer which in turn will increase the growth of our overall GDP.