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Economic Survey says need to consolidate land holding & push farm machinery rental business

NEW DELHI: With a majority of India’s farmland held by the marginal farmers with holdings below one hectare, the Economic Survey 2017-18, on Monday proposed need to consolidate the land holdings to reap the benefits of agricultural mechanization and to give a push to the rental model of farm machineries such as laser guided leveller, combines, harvesters etc.

“There is a need to innovate custom service or a rental model by institutionalization for high cost farm machinery such as combine harvester, sugarcane harvester, potato combine, paddy transplanter, laser guided land leveler, rotavator etc. to reduce the cost of operation and it can be adopted by private players or state or central organization in major production hubs, ” it said.

Tabled by the Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Arun Jaitley in Parliament today, the Economic Survey said that Indian farmers were adapting to farm mechanization at a faster rate in comparison to recent past.

“The farming communities are showing keen interest in modern and precision farm technologies, as there is a realization, that it enhances productivity and profitability. There is a noticeable shift towards the ‘organized and accountable’ rental services from the existing unorganized equipment rental services,” said Mukul Varshney, director- public affairs, John Deere India.

Varshney added that digitization and increased access to web enabled services, are making it more convenient for the farmers to pick and choose their service providers and schedule timely deployment of these ‘high technology and precision’ agriculture equipment.

The Economic Survey said that, sale of tractors to a great extent it reflects the level of mechanization. Indian tractor industries have emerged as the largest in the world and account for about one-third of total global tractor production, the survey added.

According to the World Bank estimates, half of the Indian population would be urban by the year 2050. “It is estimated that percentage of agricultural workers in total work force would drop to 25.7% by 2050 from 58.2% in 2001. Thus, there is a need to enhance the level of farm mechanization in the country,” the survey said.

Due to intensive involvement of labour in different farm operations, the cost of production of many crops is quite high, it said. Human power availability in agriculture also increased from about 0.043KW/ ha in 1960-61 to about 0.077 KW/ ha in 2014- 15.

However, as compared to tractor growth, increase in human power in agriculture was quite slow. “Over the year, the shift has been towards the use of mechanical and electrical sources of power. In 1960-61, about 93% farm power was coming from animate sources, which has reduced to about 10% in 2014-15. On the other hand, mechanical and electrical sources of power have increased from 7% to about 90% during the same period, ” it said.

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