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Essay on Farm Mechanisation in India

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In this essay we will discuss about Farm Mechanisation in India. After reading this essay you will learn about: 1. Meaning of Farm Mechanisation 2. Progress of Farm Mechanisation in India 3. Benefits 4. Case against.

Contents:

  1. Essay on the Meaning of Farm Mechanisation
  2. Essay on the Progress of Farm Mechanisation in India
  3. Essay on the Benefits of Farm Mechanisation
  4. Essay on the Case against Farm Mechanisation

1. Essay on the Meaning of Farm Mechanisation:

Mechanisation of farm indicates the use of machines for conducting agricultural operations replacing the traditional methods which involve human and animal labour. Thus, mechanisation is a process of replacing biological sources of energy involving animal and human labour to mechanised sources of energy which includes various machines like tractors, threshers, harvesters, pumpsets etc.

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In a mechanised farm, ploughing is done by tractor; sowing and applying fertiliser by the drill: reaping the threshing by the combined harvest thresher etc. Thus, mechanisation of agriculture involves in the use of different machineries in farming operation right from ploughing to marketing of produce. Mechanisation may be either complete or partial.

When all the farming operations are done by machines reducing human labour and displacing animal labour completely then the mechanisation are complete. But when machines are used alongwith traditional methods in agricultural operation then the mechanisation is partial. In developed countries as supply of labour is scarce thus they go for complete mechanisation of agriculture.

But in Third World countries like India when scarcity of capital persists and supply of labour is abundant, partial mechanisation will be the most suitable remedy. The factors which are creating hurdles against the mechanisation of agriculture include mounting pressure of population on land, small and fragmented holding, acute poverty and ignorance among the farmers etc.

Thus mechanisation also helps in improving utilization efficiency of other inputs, safety and comfort of the agricultural worker, improvements in the quality and value addition of the agricultural produce and also enabling the farmers to raise a second crop or multi-crops making the Indian agriculture attractive and a way of life by becoming commercial instead of subsistence.

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It is known to us that farm power availability and the average food grain yield have a direct relationship. Those states like Punjab and Haryana, where availability of farm power is more usually have in general higher productivity as compared to other states.

Though India is considered as one of the top countries in respect of agricultural production but in terms of farm mechanization, it is behind the world average. For instance, the tractor density in India is about 16 tractors for 1000 hectares land, while the world average is 19 tractors and that of developed countries is very high. Thus it is observed that there is significant opportunity and scope for mechanization of agriculture.


2. Essay on the Progress of Farm Mechanisation in India:

In India, the progress of mechanisation of farm has received a boost during the post-green revolution period. The progress of farm mechanisation in India can be revealed from Table 7.11.

Progress of Farm Mechanisation in India

Table 7.11(b) reveals that since 1961, i.e., during the post-green revolution period, a good rate of progress has been achieved in respect of mechanisation of farms in India. For example, the number of tractors which was only 0.31 lakh in 1961 gradually increased to 4.73 lakh in 1980 and then rose significantly to 14.50 lakh in 1991. The density of tractors per lakh hectares of gross cropped area also increased from 20 in 1961 to 710 in 1991.

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Again the number of oil engines rose steadily from 2.30 lakh in 1961 to 48 lakh in 1991 and the electrically operated tubewells also increased from 2 lakh in 1961 to 91 lakh in 1991. The density of oil engines per lakh hectare of gross cropped area also increased from 151 in 1961 to 2,575 in 1991 and that the density of electric motors per lakh hectare of gross cropped area also rose from 131 in 1961 to 4,658 in 1991.

All these led to significant increase in the area under irrigation. Moreover, the consumption of power in the agricultural sector per thousand hectare of gross cropped area rose sharply from 5.5 kWh in 1961 to 259.7 kWh in 1991 and then to 1400 kWh in 2003-04.

Despite the preponderance of small holdings in an agricultural country like India, selective use of machines for tillage operations is showing considerable growth in recent years. This is evident from the increasing number of tractors and power tillers sold in recent years as shown from the Table 7.11.1.

Production and Sale of Tractors and Power Tillers

Table 7.11.1 reveals that the total production of tractors and power tillers in the country has increased from 1.52 lakh and 7,580 respectively in 1991-92 to 1.90 lakh and 10,239 respectively in 1995-96 (P). Again the total sale of tractors and power tillers has also increased from 1.50 lakh and 7,528 respectively in 1991- 92 to 2.25 lakh and 13,563 numbers in 2001-02 respectively. This shows an increasing trend in the production and sales of tractors and power tillers in the country.

During the last ten years (1991-92 to 2001-02), about 2.23 million tractors and 1, 30,563 power tillers were sold in the country. In 2000-01, 2, 54,825 tractors were sold in the country, with Uttar Pradesh leading with 68,354 tractors. During the same period, 16,018 power tillers were sold, with West Bengal leading with 5,161 power tillers.

The latest land and livestock holding survey (NSS) forty eighth round) published in October 1996 reveals that the number of tractors per 10,000 hectare of operated area rose from 6 tractors in 1971-72 to 109 tractors in 1991-92.

A scheme “Promotion of Agricultural Mechanisation among small Farmers” has been introduced since 1992-93, under which a subsidy of 30 per cent subject to a maximum of Rs 30,000 is available to the farmers, individually or in groups, for the purchase of tractors upto 30 h.p.

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The subsidy is also available to registered co-operative and farming societies. The subsidy of Rs 30,000 per tractor which was restricted to small and marginal farmers was extended to all categories of farmers in the 1996-97 budgets. The 1996-97 budgets extended a subsidy of 50 per cent limited to Rs 30,000, under the integrated cereals Development Programme for Rice, for the purchase of power tillers.

The contribution of Draught Animal Power to total power availability in Indian agriculture has been declining over the years. This contribution which was 45.30 per cent in 1971-72 is estimated at 9.50 per cent during 2001-04. The contribution of tractors and power tillers to the total power availability in agriculture, during the same period, has increased from 7.75 to 44.00 per cent.

During this period, the total power availability increased from 0.295 kW/hectare to 1.40 kW/hectare. It is estimated that, at present, about 22.78 per cent of area is covered, by tractors for tillage operations and about 21.30 per cent area for sowing operations. Thus, there has been a considerable progress towards mechanisation in irrigation, harvesting and threshing operations.

Increased mechanisation in agriculture has created demand for more trained manpower for operation, maintenance and management of agricultural machinery. To provide better quality equipment to the farmers, the Government has already set up four Farm Machinery Training and Testing Institutes, one each at Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Assam. Two more such institutes, one in Rajasthan and other in Tamil Nadu are likely to be established shortly.

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But this progress of mechanisation shows that mechanisation of agriculture in India is very much confined among the rich farmers and the small and marginal farmers retain totally untouched. Moreover, the growth of farm mechanisation in India in comparison to that of advanced countries is found not very significant.

Again whatever farm mechanisation that has been reported, it is very much confined among the states like Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh, whereas other states could not reap much benefit from it. Thus, in India the policy of selective mechanisation was pursued and that led to mechanisation of farms in some selected areas of the country.

However, farm mechanization has immense potential for improving farm productivity. Empirical data reaffirm that availability of farm power has a direct correlation to agricultural productivity. Appropriate crop and region-specific agricultural equipment enable efficient utilization of farm inputs making farming viable and attractive.

Though the country has been witnessing considerable progress in farm mechanization, its spread across the country still remains uneven. Current farm power availability hovers around 1.7 kW/ha which is much lower than that of Korea (7 + kW/ha), Japan (14 + kW/ha), and the USA (6 + kW/ha).

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It is estimated that in order to upscale farm productivity so as to grow more food given the stagnant net sown area, farm power availability must reach at least 2.0 kW/ha by the end of Twelfth Five Year Plan. Gradual increase in farm mechanization will also help release agricultural labour for other emerging and valued sectors, thus contributing more towards GDP.

In- India, so far ‘tractors’ have been considered the major symbol of agriculture mechanization. Indian agriculture is dominated by small and marginal farmers, whose smaller landholding and weaker economic status render single ownership of much high-value agricultural machinery and equipment.

In the context, supporting and franchising rural entrepreneurs for establishing custom hiring or farm service centers will help extending benefits of farm mechanization to so far ‘excluded farmers’ category.

Thus this requires steps for the setting up of customs hiring centres/high-tech machinery banks so that small and marginal farmers can reap benefits of farm mechanization. The government has initiated a sub­mission on Agriculture Mechanization in the Twelfth Plan with a focus on custom hiring.

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In India, mechanisation of agriculture has been progressing at a moderate pace. The Department of Agriculture and Co-operation, Ministry of Agriculture, has been providing financial assistance for agricultural equipment and implements to all categories of farmers under its various central sector schemes.

This has been instrumental in bringing level of farm power from 1.35 kW per ha from beginning of Tenth Five Year Plan to 1.73 kW/ha by the end of 2009-10.

Simultaneously, the farm equipment industry has also witnessed robust growth in sales of tractors and power tillers during the year 2012-13 as 5, 45,557 and 47,000 number respectively. In order to attain the projected demand of 280 million tonnes of foodgrains by the year 2020, we need to scale up our farm power availability to at least 2.0 kW/ha by the end of 12th plan period. In order to achieve this by the end of 12th plan period, India needs inclusive growth of farm mechanization.

Department of Agriculture and Co-operation, Ministry of Agriculture has proposed the Sub-Mission on Agriculture Mechanization during the Twelfth plan, with a special emphasis on ‘reaching the unreached’ that will bring small and marginal farmers at the core and will provide a suitable platform for converging all activities related to agricultural mechanization by providing a single window approach for implementation of the programme.

Thus, it is observed that agricultural mechanization increases productivity of land and labour by meeting timeliness of farm operations and increases work output per unit of time. Besides its paramount contribution to the multiply cropping and diversification of agriculture, mechanisation of agriculture also enables efficient utilization of inputs, like seeds, fertilizers and irrigation water.

Although India is one of the top countries in agricultural production, the current level of farm mechanization, in the country, which varies across states, averages around 40 per cent as compared to that of 90 per cent achieved in developed countries. Farm mechanization in India has been growing at a rate less than 5 per cent in the last two decades.

The main challenges so farm mechanization in India are, first, a highly diverse agriculture with different soil and climatic zones, requiring customized farm machinery and equipment and second, largely small land holdings with limited resources.

Moreover, credit flow for farm mechanization is again less than 3 per cent of the total credit flow to the agriculture sector. The Twelfth Plan has initiated a dedicated sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization with its focus on spreading farm mechanization to small and marginal farmers and regions that have low farm power availability.


3. Essay on the Benefits of Farm Mechanisation:

Mechanisation of farm has provided following benefits to the agricultural sector:

1. Mechanisation of farms has led to increase in the volume of agricultural production. In developed countries like U.S.A. farm mechanisation has resulted in increase in agricultural production and productivity. A survey conducted in India reveals that the productivity per hectare is comparatively higher in a mechanised farm than that of non-mechanised farms.

2. Mechanisation increases the labour productivity as the same output can be raised by the lesser number of labourers.

3. Application of farm machines has relieved the agricultural labourers much of the heavy work like land reclamation, ploughing, digging and carrying of soil.

4. Large scale farming has become possible due to mechanisation of agriculture which has reduced the cost of production.

5. Mechanisation can solve the labour bottlenecks faced by the farm during the peak period.

6. Mechanisation made the intensive cultivation successful and helped the farmers to follow multiple cropping in a suitable manner.

7. Mechanisation increases the income of farmers and can transform the traditional agriculture into commercial agriculture leading to the introduction of capitalist farming.

8. Mechanisation of agriculture helps to derive an increased volume of economic surplus which not only induces the farmers to develop their agricultural farm but also helps towards industrial development and infra-structural development in a country.


4. Essay on the Case against Farm Mechanisation:

Following are some of the arguments against mechanisation of farms:

1. Mechanisation of farms can reduce the scope of agricultural employment and these may be termed inconsistent in a labour-surplus economy like India. As Hanumantha Rao observed that about 15 per cent labour and harvester combine around 25 per cent in addition to those displaced persons.

2. Due to existence of huge number of small and marginal farms in underdeveloped countries like India, mechanisation of farm is not possible under the present set up.

3. Lack of trained personnel can also stand in the path of mechanisation like India.

4. Rapidly rising price of oil is also creating lot of hurdles in the path of mechanisation in a oil deficient, country like India.

5. Mechanisation of agriculture in India has increased the degree of regional disparities in the level of income and also raised interpersonal inequality of income. Confinement of farm mechanisation in Haryana, Punjab and Western Uttar Pradesh is responsible for widespread regional disparity in India.

6. Mechanised farm will render a huge number of existing cattle population surplus and unnecessary. Thus, under the present circumstances complete mechanisation of farm is not possible. Considering the huge size of population in India a policy of limited mechanisation will be most suitable where the labour displacement effects will be minimum.

Thus, the Sixth Plan has rightly observed that, “Unrestricted mechanisation of agricultural operations will not, however, be in the interest of our country as it severely worsens the rural unemployment problem. As such, a policy of selective mechanisation will be adopted.” 


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