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Growing more food

Posted in CFM

Dr. S.L. Marbaniang
According to 2011 census, India’s population is about 121 crores, the second highest in the world next only to China. The percentage decadal growth rate of population during 2001-2011 was 17.64. This figure is lower than that for the period 1991-2001 which was 21.54. Demographers predict that at the present rate of growth, India’s population will surpass that of China in a few decades.
The position of our State of Meghalaya, though very small in population, is similar to that of the national pattern. As on sunrise of March 1st this year, the figure has approached a three million mark. The respective percentage of decadal growth rates for the period 1991-2001 and 2001-2011 were 30.65 and 27.82. Within a gap of four decades, Meghalaya’s population has increased three times.
Unlike china, India has a high percentage of young people. These rich human resources can, therefore, be utilized in nation-building. A good number of highly qualified youths are leaving the country for greener pastures like America and the highly developed countries of Europe. So brain drain is a matter of great concern for the nation which is on the threshold of progress and development
Nevertheless, the scenario at home is not at all bright. Unemployment is rising with each year. Another dimension to this is that a good number of them are unemployable. This drawback ought to be rectified so that the huge manpower can be usefully utilized. The educational institutions have a challenging task ahead. Planners and administrators have to also pool in their resources.
In the matter of health and nutrition, the fundamental objective is food security. The country has a high responsibility in producing not only enough food but also to have bountiful harvest. Thus, surplus amount can be exported to other needy countries and at the same time enhance our prestige internationally while the foreign exchange also improves. Government of India has accordingly initiated the National Food Security Mission (NFSM).
During the late 1950s and early 1960s when the country’s future on food front seemed doom, our agricultural scientists under the dynamic leadership of Dr. M.S. Swaminathan brought relief. Thanks to their commitment of making India self-sufficient in food production, the Green Revolution has become a historical milestone in its glorious annals.
National Food Security Mission (NFSM): The Mission aims to produce additional 10, 8 and 2 million tonnes of rice, wheat and pulses respectively, thereby achieving an additional production of 20 million tonnes of food grains by 2011-12 so as to meet the projected consumption requirement of food grains. The Mission covers about 13 million hectares of wheat area, 20 million hectares of rice area and 98% of pulses area. Mission also aims at restoring soil fertility, creating employment opportunities, and enhancing farm level economy to restore the confidence of the farmers of the targeted districts. Mission promotes proven technology and knowledge inputs packaged to deliver end-to-end agriculture services to reach out to farmers in 476 districts of 17 states that blend technology promotion with responsive administration for timely delivery of the agricultural services to bridge the yield gaps in the selected districts. By incentivising collaborative working, mission aims to harness the capacities of the participating institutions and meet the challenge of administering its programs in the targeted relatively backward districts.
Strategy: The basic strategy of the mission is to promote and extend improved technologies i.e., seed, micronutrients, soil amendments, Integrated Pest Management, Farm Machinery and resource conservation technologies along with capacity building of farmers with effective monitoring and better management. Fund flow is closely monitored to ensure that interventions reach the target beneficiaries on time. The strategy also includes ensuring timely and complete reach of the proven technology and associated knowledge inputs to the farmer; promoting collaboration among various institutions at the District, State and the National level dealing with different aspects of agriculture and rural development; empowering local administration for district specific promotion of additional locally relevant interventions; and recognizing good performance against objective parameters set for delivery of inputs and outcomes reached.
Monitoring and Evaluation of NFSM: At the national level, 9 National Level Monitoring Teams (NLMTs) have been constituted with members drawn from various central and state organizations. All the nine Crop Development Directorates of the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation are also monitoring the implementation of NFSM activities in the 17 NFSM States. Monitoring committees have also been constituted at state level and district level for monitoring the implementation of the Mission.
Project Management Team has been appointed at national level for providing continuous technical supports to the states regarding formulation of action plans, implementation of various components prescribed under NFSM and also for monitoring the progress of various activities of NFSM through extensive field visits and technical guidance to the states.
Various monitoring/reporting formats (quarterly & annual) have been developed and issued to the states for obtaining the information about progress of NFSM activities. Hand books on log frame analysis, reporting and monitoring formats, and criteria for selection of districts for awards have been prepared with the help of National Productivity Council for assisting the states in implementation and monitoring of the mission activities.
Management Information System (MIS) for online submission of progress report at state, district and block level has been developed for maintaining transparency.
The mid-term evaluation of the scheme by an external independent agency is due in the current year i.e. 2010-11. National Productivity Council has prepared a compendium of guidelines for midterm evaluation including Terms of Reference, expression of Interest, technical & financial bidding etc. Process for calling expression of interests from independent agencies has been initiated.
Achievements of the Mission: As per the progress reports received from the States, significant achievements under NFSM have been recorded during last three years i.e. during 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10. New farm practices have been encouraged through 3.00 lakh demonstrations of improved package of practices. As many as 53,438 demonstrations of System of Rice Intensification (SRI) as well as 24,189 demonstrations of hybrid rice have been  conducted. Nearly, 85.79 lakh qtls of seeds of high yielding varieties of Rice, Wheat and Pulses and hybrid rice have been distributed. About 65.88 lakh hectares have been treated with soil ameliorants (gypsum/lime/micro nutrients) to restore soil fertility. An area of about 25.77 lakh hectares has been treated under Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Further, nearly 15.31 lakh improved farm machineries including water saving devices have been distributed. Capacity building of farmers has been encouraged through arranging 28,821 Farmers’ Field Schools (FFS).
Enhancement of input consumption in NFSM districts: There has been an increase in input consumption of seeds, Integrated Nutrient Management (INM), IPM and machinery components under rice, wheat, Pulses from 2007-08 to 2009-10 which indicates the awareness generated at the district level towards use of quality seeds, nutrients, plant protection chemicals and farm machinery.
Farmers have enthusiastically responded to NFSM supported farm machinery components, especially to Zero till seed drills, rotavators etc which is evident from the increased sale of these machines supported by the Mission. The awareness generated through demonstrations and distribution of seed minikits of newly released varieties to the farmers has triggered substantial increase in the use of high yielding varieties of wheat and rice seeds in identified districts. Capacity building exercises for farmers through Farmers Field Schools were found to be helpful in orienting the farmers towards adoption of new agriculture technologies.
[Ref: Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, Union Ministry of Agriculture, 2010-11]

 

Suggestions:

Our State lags far behind in food sector. There is an increase production of food crops, no doubt, but this does not commensurate with corresponding increase in population. Government departments along with those of Central Establishments ought to face the Challenge jointly. Some of the types of machineries applicable in these hilly terrains are to be encouraged. Capacity building exercises in regular basis are helpful.


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