Day 31 – Q 2.Examine the transport bottlenecks faced by the small and marginal farmers in India. How can transport of agricultural produce be made viable and more efficient? Discuss.
2. Examine the transport bottlenecks faced by the small and marginal farmers in India. How can transport of agricultural produce be made viable and more efficient? Discuss.
भारत में छोटे और हाशिये के किसानों द्वारा सामना की जाने वाली परिवहन बाधाओं की जाँच करें। कृषि उपज के परिवहन को व्यवहार्य और अधिक कुशल कैसे बनाया जा सकता है? चर्चा करें।
Transport is regarded as a crucial factor in improving agricultural productivity. It enhances quality of life of the people, creates market for agricultural produce, facilitates interaction among geographical and economic regions and opened up new areas to economic focus.
Indian farmers incur Rs 92,651 crore per year in post-harvest losses, the primary causes of which are poor storage and transportation facilities. Ironically, according to the high-level Dalwai committee report, an investment of Rs 89,375 crore—a figure marginally lower than the annual post-harvest losses—is all it takes to improve the state of storage and transportation facilities for food crops.
The transport bottlenecks faced by the small and marginal farmers in India
- Since a market is the primary medium for farmers to exchange their produce for money, lack of logistics connectivity to ensure that their harvest reaches markets in time results in lowering of the farmers’ ability to monetise their produce. This becomes even more critical in case of perishable fruits and vegetables.
- For the distribution of agriculture items, road transport has crucial role to play as it is the chief means of transporting the agricultural goods from the farms to local markets and also to several urban locations.
- Most roads in the rural areas are Kutcha (bullock- cart roads) and become useless in the rainy season. Under these circumstances the farmers cannot carry their produce to the main market and are forced to sell it in the local market at low price.
- If transport services are not common, cheap quality or costly then agriculturalists will be at an inconvenience when they try to sell their crops. An expensive service will naturally lead to low farm gate prices (the net price the farmer receives from selling his produce).
- The seasonally blocked routes or sluggish and irregular transport services, together with unsatisfactory storage, can actually lead to high losses as specific items such as milk, fresh vegetables, tea, get worse quickly after a while.
- In case the agricultural products are moved through bumpy road network, then several other crops such as mangoes & bananas might also suffer losses from staining. This also
shows up in reduced rates to the agriculturalist.
Ways to make transport of agricultural produce be made viable and more efficient
Transport is a burning component of post-harvest crop management.
After all, every harvested crop needs to be transported, either directly from the field to the market, or to the packing house and storage.
- When choosing the optimal mode of transport, farmers should consider a few important aspects:
- The distance and the accessibility of the destination.
- Type of goods that are transported; for instance, there are different requirements for transition of perishable crops and packing material.
- The size or the quantity of goods that need to be transported; determine the optimal mode of transport, as well as the price of delivery.
- International or national laws and regulations.
- Available infrastructure and farmer’s financial possibilities.
- Functionality and additional properties of any transport mode, as well as any means of transport
- The Dalwai committee has brought to forefront the role of Indian railways in addressing the need to shift from road to rail. About 1.9 per cent of the perishable fruits and vegetables are transported through rail, while 97.4 per cent of the produce is transported through roads. This ratio needs to shift in favour of rail network.
- The post-harvest losses can be substantially reduced if they are shifted from roads to trains. Railways are capable of covering longer distances in shorter times and can empower farmers by allowing them to expand their market reach specially the perishable crops. While existing trade into local markets will continue, the amount that is surplus to the localised demand can be safely connected to consumers far away, thereby mitigating loss and increasing recovery from surplus.
- An investment in creating a robust post-harvest storage and transportation by investing Rs 89,375 crore will also create over 3 million jobs. And a majority of which will be at the village level, thus empowering the local, rural economy.
- Properly managed transport is efficient in delivering farm resources and harvested crops as fast as possible. When considered as the final practice of delivering the crops to the market, transport is responsible for the preservation of crop yield and quality. Besides that, when it’s economically managed, transport will give plenty of space for reducing total production cost.
Certain Government Initiatives
- Transport and Marketing Assistance (TMA) scheme : Under the Transport and Marketing Assistance (TMA) scheme, the government would reimburse a certain portion of freight charges and provide assistance for marketing of agricultural produce. The scheme covers freight and marketing assistance for export by air as well as by sea (both normal and refrigerated cargo).
- In a major policy initiative aimed at benefitting farmers, the government has done away with the licensing permits for foreign vessels given under section 407 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1958 for coastal movement of agriculture, fishery and animal produce, besides allowing Indian citizens to charter ships for these.
- Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana: is a nationwide plan in India to provide good all-weather road connectivity to unconnected villages.
- Government of India has been encouraging/ promoting organic farming under two dedicated Schemes, namely, Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER) and Parampragat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) since 2015.
Major reform for food security and farmers livelihood is needed in adopting a holistic and integrated approach in ensuring convergence in the management of animal husbandry, fisheries, agro-forestry, minor forest produce and agro-minor forest-based micro and medium enterprise specially in the rain-fed areas. There is also a need to respond to the challenges and opportunities in global market. Transport is considered as a vital factor to augment agricultural productivity. It actually forms up a market for agricultural products, boosts interaction among the geographical and profitable regions together with opening up new areas to economic focus. There are intricate relationships that vary both spatially and over time between transport and development.