Farm Mechanisation: Myth vs Reality
Indian agriculture is passing through a transition phase. If you observe, the shift in agricultural practices from labour intensive farming to animal power driven to mechanisation and technology adoption has changed the agricultural landscape in India.
With limited natural resources, both land and water, the challenge is how to efficiently utilise them to increase agriculture production. Given the increasing fragmentation of land holdings and poor economic condition of small and marginal farmers, the process of agriculture mechanisation has been dwarfed.
The myth about agriculture mechanisation creating unemployment has been busted over the years. It, in fact, creates income and employment opportunities among rural youth and enhances farm productivity. Efficient use of machines and tools also boosts multi-cropping practices.
Engineering interventions by way of mechanisation have increased considerably during the recent years so as to meet the timeliness of farm operations, reducing drudgery, capacity enhancement and efficient utilisation of inputs like seed, fertiliser, pesticides and water.
What is needed is to promote mechanisation through various policy initiatives. Though there are schemes and financial assistance under Sub Mission in Agriculture Mechanisation (SMAM), National Mission on Horticulture (NHM) and National Food Security Mission to promote farm mechanisation, effective measures need to be taken to popularise use of appropriate machines and tools among small and marginal farmers by custom hiring from Farm Machinery Banks and High Produce Equipment Hubs.
Regional imbalances in terms of power availability (varying from0.60 kW/ha in Odisha to 3.5 kW/ha in Punjab) need to be addressed to achieve agricultural growth of 4 per cent in the country.
The efficiency of mechanisation can be judged from the fact that modern plough is about 200 to 300 per cent efficient than indigenous plough. Efficient machinery helps in increasing productivity by about 30 per cent, besides enabling the farmers to raise a second crop or multi crop, making Indian agriculture attractive commercially.
Thus, farm mechanisation not only helps increase productivity but also assists in the conservation of the produce and by-products from qualitative and quantitative damages. It also enables value addition and establishment of agro processing enterprises for additional income as well as employment generation from farm produce. It is one of the important inputs to usher in all round development in the rural India.