Kurukshetra December 2023

Chapter 1- Towards Making Villages Self-Reliant

  • Villages is the only way to create a self-sufficient nation.
  • Currently, approximately 68% of India resides in rural areas, and 51% of our work force engages in the agrarian economy.
  • Gram Panchayats play an important role in the successful implementation of the schemes of the Central Government and State Governments.


Schemes/works/initiatives/activities helping the Panchayats become self-reliant are as follows-

a. Empowerment with Funds from Central Finance Commission- Under the Fifteenth Finance Commission (XV FC), Grants to of Rs. 60,750 crore has been allocated for the interim period FY 2020-21 and Rs. 2,36,805 crore has been allocated for the period FY 2021-26 to Panchayats in all the three tiers and Traditional Local Bodies and Sixth Schedule areas in 28 States.

b. Localisation of Sustainable Development Goals (LSDG)- By localising the Sustainable Development Goals, approximately 2.5 lakh Panchayats of the country have resolved to saturate their villages with local-level determined activities.

c. Making Panchayats Financially Self-reliant- Own Source of Revenue is important for Panchayats to undertake various activities as an institution of self-government and ensure economic development and social justice. They are constrained due to inadequate financial resources.

d. Leveraging Digital Technology in Panchayats- Under the National e-Governance Plan (NEGP), e-Panchayat is a meaningful and far-reaching mission made to develop more transparent, accountable, and effective self-governance with greater public participation. e-Gram SWARAJ, a work-based accounting software for Panchayati Raj Institutions.

  • To bring transparency to Panchayat procurement, e-Gram SWARAJ has been integrated with Government e-MarketPlace (GeM).
  • It will allow local producers/cooperatives/artisans/Self Help Groups, etc. to sell their product directly to government entities.
  • It will thereby promoting the sprit of “‘Vocal for Local’.

e. Initiatives towards Gram Urja Swaraj- It is an attempt to accommodate rural areas and address the social, economic, environmental, and health concerns of the rural population, along with promoting renewable energy.

  • The Ministry has also launched ‘Gram Urja Swaraj’ dashboard for ascertaining the suitability and inclination of Gram Panchayats towards adopting renewable energy projects.
  • Under this, Gram Panchayats have developed their own implementation models with the support of Renewable energy development Agencies in the States.

f. SVAMITVA Scheme Conferring Property Rights- A Way to Monetise the Assets- It was launched by Prime Minister on 24 April 2020.

  • The SVAMITVA scheme aims to provide the ‘record of rights’ to village household owners possessing houses in inhabited rural areas.
  • It also issues property cards to the property owners that are backed by State Revenue or Panchayati Raj Acts.
  • This would facilitate monetisation of rural residential assets for credit and other financial services.
  • It would help Panchayats becoming self-sufficient through property tax collection, which is the most effective own source of revenue for them.


Conclusion- Thus, the noble goal of becoming Viksit Bharat expects the villages become self-reliant, for which the contribution of Panchayats is commendable.

Chapter 2- Lab to Land- Empowering Farmers Technically

  • According to UN estimates, the population of India is expected to reach 1.64 billion by 2050 and thus qualitative and quantitative feeding of such a huge population is going to be a challenge due to deteriorating natural resources, shrinking arable land, and the deleterious impacts of global climate change.
  • Prime Minister gave the slogan ‘Lab to Land’, enabling the farmers to enhance production to increase their income and feed the country as well as the world.
  • It covers all activities pertaining to the transfer of technologies, innovations, and information to farmers and fields.


Mission and Modes-

Some of initiatives/ missions are as follows-

  • The Extension Division of the Agriculture Ministry implements a ‘Sub-Mission on Agricultural Extension’ (SMAE).
  • It focuses on awareness creation and enhanced use of appropriate technologies in agriculture and allied sectors.
  • During 2022-23 (up to December 2022), over 4100 programmes were telecasted on DD and nearly 22,700 broadcasted through AIR.
  • A unique concept of Kisan Call Centres was launched on 21 January, 2004 to provide answers to farmers’ queries on a telephone call in their own dialect.
  • A scheme for establishment of the Agri-clinics and Agri-business centres is under implementation since April 2022.
  • This component aims to tap the expertise available in the large pool of agriculture graduates by providing them gainful opportunities for self-employment.
  • The Extension Division participates and facilitates organisation of farmer-centric exhibitions, fairs, seminars, etc. at the different levels in the country.
  • The Division also supports five Regional Agricultural Fairs, one in each region every year. Such events showcase latest and modern technological advancements and also disseminate first hand information to the farming community.


Bridging the Gap

  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), is leading the Lab to Land programme through its 731 strong network of Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVK), across the country.
  • KVKs were introduced in 1974 in Puducherry on a pilot basis for the transfer of agricultural technologies and knowledge to farmers.
  • KVKs helps in technology assessment and demonstration for its application and capacity development.
  • Its major and regular activities include
    • on-farm testing to assess the location specificity of agricultural technologies   under various farming systems;
    • conducting frontline demonstrations to establish the production potential of technologies on farmers’ fields;
    • capacity development of farmers and extension personnel to update their technical knowledge and skill;
    • acting as a knowledge and resource centre of technologies for improving the agricultural economy of the district; and
    • providing farm-advisories to farmers employing various means and modes.


Going Extra Miles

  • Nearly 50 agricultural R&D institutions and universities have set up in-campus Agricultural Technology Information Centres (ATICs), which act as single window delivery system to provide technology, information, advisory services, and technological inputs to the farmers.
  • A special programme called ‘KSHAMTA’ (Knowledge Systems and Homestead Agricultural Management in Tribal Areas) has been launched to boost agricultural production and farmers’ income in tribal areas, with the support of KVKs.
  • More than 3.5 lakh Common Service Centres in rural areas have been linked with the KVKs for providing technological solutions to the farmers visiting CSCs with agriculture related problems.
  • Mera Gaon, Mera Gaurav’ (My Village, My Pride) is a novel Lab to Land initiative by ICAR in which groups of scientists identify/adopt villages for dissemination of technologies, and information to farmers.
  • ARYA (Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture) is a specialised initiative which aims to create job opportunities in rural areas by skilling/training youth in varius agro-enterprises.
  • KVKs are empowering farmers technically to adopt ‘climate-smart’ agriculture under project NICRA (National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture).


New Pathways and Way Forward

  • mKISAN is a versatile portal launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, which aims quick transfer of knowledge to farmers.
  • ‘Kisan Suvidha’ is an omnibus mobile app that facilitates dissemination of information to farmers on some critical parameters such as weather, market prices, plant protection, input dealers, farm machinery, soil health card, cold storage and godowns, veterinary centres, and diagnostic labs.
  • Various modules of extension services in India are moving and converging in a fast-track mode to deliver best knowledge services and transfer of technologies to bridge the gap.

Chapter 3- Towards the Goal of Atmanirbhar Gaon

Challenge of Reigning Urbanisation

  • Counter-urbanisation, or deurbanisation, is defined as a ‘demographic and social process whereby people move from urban areas to rural areas’.
  • Overpopulation is one of the causes of what is referred to as ‘shrinking cities’.
  • Develop competencies in villages to meet the demand of emerging opportunities in rural India.


Proactive Interventions for Revival of Village Institution

  • Entrepreneurship development is a fundamental intervention for livelihoods.
  • It is not sufficient to limit existential self-sufficiency, but also to meet the aspirational needs of quality of life in modern times.
  • Under ‘Unnat Bharat Abhiyan’, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, through its various laboratories in the country, 53 technologies have been coChapter 3mpletely commercialised, and many others are at various stage of being commercialised.


Engaging Communities for Instilling Conviction

  • The success of a people-centric programme can only be expected by engaging with the communities.
  • The role of non-governmental organisations and higher education institutions in handholding is critical, as they often possess superior community engagement capabilities.
  • Under the ‘Unnat Bharat Abhiyan’, the task of providing knowledge and technology support involving higher education institutions was taken up by subject experts with the objective of improving livelihoods.


Enabling the Development of Aatmanirbhar Gaon and Way Forward- Evolution of prosperity in India is possible only when villages lead the movement. According to Gandhiji, ‘The cities are capable of taking care of themselves. It is the village we must turn to’. Thus, the policies and the actions should be based on the principle that ‘Development of India is development of Aatmanirbhar Gaon'.

Chapter 4- Sustainable Industries

  • Sustainable industries are defined by their capacity to endure and thrive without depleting the resources they depend on.
  • They prioritise the long-term well-being of not only the economy but also the environment.
  • Government has taken serious steps to promote sustainable industries in rural areas to empower local communities by fostering a sense of ownership and control over their economic destiny.
  • They allow for local expertise to flourish as individuals and communities take charge of the production, management, and distribution of resources.


The Concept of Aatmanirbhar Villages

  • Self-reliant villages, often referred to as ‘Aatmanirbhar Villages’, are a visionary approach to community development.
  • Economic diversification is essential for regions heavily reliant on traditional sectors like agriculture and tourism, as it offers stability and growth.
  • Sustainable industries play a pivotal role in providing employment opportunities for the local population, contributing to social stability, and reducing dependence.


The practical application of sustainable industries in Jammu and Kashmir are as-

  • Homestays- Homestays provide an opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in the local culture, traditions, and daily life, making their journeys more enriching and memorable.
  • Pencil Industry- The Kashmiri pencil industry is celebrated for its exquisite handcrafted wooden pencils, prized for their top-notch quality, artistic designs, and cultural importance.
  • Saffron Cultivation- Saffron cultivation in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) holds promise as a sustainable industry that benefits both the local economy and the environment. In 2011, the Government launched the National Saffron Mission, with an aim to revitalising and promoting the saffron cultivation industry.
  • Handicraft and Handloom Industry- The handicraft and handloom industry in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) holds the potential to serve as a sustainable and economically viable sector with profound cultural significance.
  • Cricket Bat Industry- Kashmir's cricket bat industry is primarily centred in the southern regions of Pulwama and Anantnag, where the ideal conditions for cultivating the willow trees exist in the lush, wet highlands nearby. The demand for Kashmiri cricket bats remains high in cricket-playing nations.
  • Agro-Processing- As a sustainable industry, it holds immense significance in Jammu and Kashmir. Job creation, economic diversification, and market expansion are key benefits, and they promote sustainable practices, benefiting both the environment and the economy.


Conclusion- Sustainable industries are the key to self-reliant villages in Jammu and Kashmir. These industries provide economic diversification, job opportunities, environmental sustainability, and reduced dependence. However, implementing sustainable industries in Jammu and Kashmir requires addressing challenges related to infrastructure, skill development, financial resources, marketing, and regulatory frameworks.

Chapter 5- Empowering Rural India Digital Transformation as a Sustainability Catalyst

  • The Industrial Revolution 4.0, the integration of digital technologies, holds transformative potential, contrasting historical societies like electricity and automation.
  • Despite its promise, challenges are there such as lack of universal digital connectivity, primarily in rural areas where the urban-rural digital divide is intensified due to limited access, inadequate digital skills, and affordability.
  • A Digitally Self-Reliant Village acts as a gateway to crucial rural services, offering a range of high-tech amenities.
  • This approach integrates high-tech education, providing internet access, e-content, educational apps, smart classes, and video conferencing for enhanced learning.
  • Digital hubs represent one of the many strategies that policymakers can employ to promote digital engagement among rural communities and businesses, contributing to the realisation of Digitally Self-Reliant Villages.
  • Digital agriculture ensures high productivity, adaptability to climate change, and anticipatory capabilities, potentially enhancing food security, profitability, and sustainability for the future.


Conditions for a Digital Transformation-

The digital transformation of agriculture relies on specific conditions in various contexts:

a. Basic conditions: essential for technology use, encompass availability, connectivity (mobile subscriptions, network coverage, internet access), affordability, ICT education, and supportive policies (e-government) for digital strategies.

b. Enabling conditions, or 'enablers': include internet, mobile phones, social media use, digital skills, and support for agripreneurship and innovation culture (talent development, hackathons, incubators, and accelerators).

c. Digitalising: the sector will profoundly reshape work dynamics and shift labour and skill demands.

Government Initiatives for Digital Empowerment

  • 'Digital India' programme, launched in 2015, strives to bring government services to every corner of the country through high-speed internet.
  • The Bharat Net Project further boosts this effort by enhancing e-banking, e-governance, internet services, and e-education in villages, aiming to connect all Gram Panchayats with 100 Mbps connectivity.
  • Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) promotes financial and digital inclusion in rural India by enabling online transactions.


Other Initiatives-

  • Al for All: NITI Ayog’s initiative for Agri Digitalisation- It targets 5 key sectors for Al implementation as under-
    • Healthcare: increased access and affordability of quality healthcare.
    • Agriculture: enhanced farmers income, increased farm productivity and reduction of wastage.
    • Education: improved access and quality of education.
    • Smart Cities and Infrastructure:  efficient connectivity for the burgeoning urban population.
    • Smart Mobility and Transportation: smarter and safer modes of transportation and better traffic and congestion problems.
  • Self-Reliant India (SRI) Fund empowering MSMEs for Aatmanirbhar Bharat- This approach taps into the private sector's robust capabilities to provide essential growth capital to viable MSMEs with clear expansion strategies.
  • Fintech Companies Initiatives for Digital Empowerment- Fintech entities are diligently establishing digital infrastructure in rural areas, deploying Kiosks, PoS devices, and Mobile Vans to facilitate digital bill payments (mobile, electricity, DTH, water) in remote villages.

Smart Entrepreneurship for a Self-Reliant Smart Village Economy and role of Youth Agripreneurs

  • Entrepreneurial endeavours in villages can catalyse rural economic development, bridge the income gap between rural and urban regions, and generate employment opportunities.
  • Youth Agripreneurs are pivotal in driving agricultural digitalisation.
  • They create startups focused on assisting farming communities, often rooted in their own backgrounds.


E-commerce for Rural Products

  • Providing electronic platforms for rural products i.e. rural e-commerce is different from mainstream e-commerce.
  • Its purpose is to connect rural areas with urban markets and enhance income levels.
  • The Government initiatives like 'Make in India,' 'Digital India," and 'Skill India' are geared towards promoting SME growth and facilitating their entry into the e-commerce realm.


Issues and Challenges faced in rural e-commerce

  • Payment-related Issues
  • lack of digital infrastructure
  • Logistics Challenge
  • E-commerce Awareness
  • Business Competence
  • Product Quality
  • Language barriers
  • Currency Challenges

Potential Solutions-

Examples and impact of the use of digital technologies in agrifood systems-

  1. Mobile Apps: Mobile apps have empowered farmers with real-time price information, enabling informed decisions and altering cropping patterns.
  2. Agrobots and Al Startup Innovations (AgTech): These robots are revolutionizing farming by assisting with tasks like water management and irrigation optimization. Al-driven solutions, employ facial and voice recognition, reducing labor costs and improving efficiency.
  3. Internet of Things (loT) in Precision Agriculture: These technologies optimize resource use, reduce costs, and enhance productivity by delivering precise data on planting, fertilization, and irrigation.
  4. Blockchain Technology: It ensures and facilitate data-driven food traceability, enhancing transparency, and reinforcing consumer trust.


Conclusion- Thus, empowering rural areas for digital transformation is a necessity for sustainable development. By bridging the digital gap between urban and rural regions, we can unlock the potential of these areas, boost economic growth, improve livelihoods, and contribute to environmental conservation.

Chapter 6- Accelerating Economic growth in villages

Some important facts and findings-

  • Villages are the lifeline of India as 65 percent of the country’s population lives in the rural areas.
  • Rural economy contributes 25-30 percent to the GDP.
  • 47 percent of the population is dependent on agriculture for livelihood.
  • There is a need for more investment in terms of money and technology in agriculture as 1 percent per annum increase in agricultural growth, on an average, leads to a 2.7 percent increase in the income of people in the lowest three income deciles in the developing countries.
  • Investment in agriculture is 2.5 to 3.0 times more effective in increasing the income of the poor than is non-agricultural investment.


Financial Support in the Rural Areas

  • An IFPRI study on prioritization of investment opportunities also suggested that investment in education and health in rural areas significantly contribute in reducing poverty and increasing agricultural growth.
  • In 2023-24, the Ministry of Rural Development has been allocated Rs. 1,59,964 crore which implements programmes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G).
  • Allocation for the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) has been increased from Rs. 13336 to Rs. 14129 crore in the 2023-24 budget.
  • Jal Jeevan Mission received an increased allocation of Rs. 70,000 crore for the FY 2023-24.
  • Government has initiated computerization of 63,000 primary agricultural credit societies with an investment of Rs. 2,516 crore.
  • Government has given greater impetus for infrastructural development in agriculture through Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) and has supported more than 18,321 projects totalling Rs. 13,681 crores.


Skill Building in Rural Areas

  • Rural economy can receive a boost by ensuring suitable livelihood opportunities during the lean period to the agricultural workers and farmers.
  • Currently, the Central Government is implementing three schemes for employment generation- Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY) and Skill development through Rural Self Employment and Training Institutes (RSETIs).
  • MGNREGS provide employment opportunities to unskilled workers of all age groups.
  • Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY) launched in 2014 is focused on rural youth between the ages of 15 and 35 years from poor families.
  • In Rural Self Employment Training Institutes (RSETIs) scheme, development support is extended for promoting self-employment in the unemployed rural youth, particularly those below the poverty line, and periodic skill upgradation to keep them abreast of latest technologies. These RSETIs are promoted and managed by banks with active cooperation from the State Governments.
  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) is a part of the Skill India Mission and is enabling skill-based training of rural youth.
  • Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) aims at generating self-employment opportunities through the establishment of microenterprises in the non-farm sector by helping traditional artisans and unemployed youth.
  • Vibrant Villages Programme with financial allocation of Rs. 4,800 crore has been approved for the years 2022-23 to 2025-26 and it is aimed at boosting infrastructure development and livelihood opportunities in villages along the northern border.


Need for Micro, Small and Medium Scale Industries for Non-Farm Sector Jobs

  • The role of Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) is very critical in developing rural industrialization to strengthen the village economy.
  • There are 63.4 million MSMEs units spread across the country, out of which 324.88 lakh (51.25 per cent) are in rural areas and 309 lakhs (48.75 per cent) in the urban areas.
  • They provide employment to about 111 million workers.
  • As MSMEs absorb the surplus agricultural labor, they help reduce the problem of disguised unemployment in rural areas.


Special Focus Needed on Forest Fringe Villages

  • Forest Survey of India (2019) estimated that roughly 26 per cent of the total 6,50,000 villages can be classified as forest fringe villages, where forests fulfil significant socio-cultural and livelihood needs.
  • These villages were home to around 22 percent of the country’s total population and almost 60- 70 percent income of the forest dwellers depends on the collection and sale of minor forest produce (MFP).
  • Enactment of Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension of the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA 1996) empowers the Gram Panchayats and Sabhas in Scheduled Areas with the ownership of minor forest produce and empower them to manage village markets and exercise control over local plans and resources for such plan.
  • The Van Dhan Yojana under ‘Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) has been launched in 2018 with The Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) as the nodal agency at the national level for the socio-economic development of the tribal population of the country.


Promote Villages as Tourism Hubs

  • Presently, the travel and tourism industry employ 14 million people, which is expected to rise at the rate of 2.5 percent per annum till 2027.
  • Rural Tourism has the potential to create villages into micro-economic units, independent from metros and big cities and at the same time can help farmers with direct access to the markets.
  • In 2022, 32 destinations from all around the world have been named as ‘Best Tourist Villages 2022’ by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).


Smart Villages

  • Agriculture is the primary occupation in villages which needs total revamp with infusion of smart technologies to strengthen village economy.
  • The use of Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Big Data Analytics, drones for various farm operations, ICT applications, technology for weather forecasting are some important technologies which have potential in transforming the country’s agriculture industry.
  • Agritech startups are developing innovative solutions for various aspects of agriculture, including precision farming, supply chain management, and market linkages.
  • These technologies can help improve productivity, reduce costs, and increase the income of farmers and thus help in making a village smart.
  • State Bank of India (SBI) has developed the YONO Krishi app to meet farmers’ finance, inputs, and advisory needs.
  • Indian Tobacco Company is using its e-Choupal network to expand direct-from-farm procurement over the past 20 years.


Conclusion- To bring prosperity to our rural landscape, we need to adopt the concept of Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA) given by former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.

It calls for urban infrastructure and services to be developed in rural hubs to create economic opportunities outside of urban areas. These include better road network, education, health, drinking water, power, sanitation and social safety net.

Chapter 7- Aatmanirbhar Villages through Agricultural Development

Need of Making Village Aatmanirbhar

  • Nearly two-thirds of the total population and more than 70 percent of the workforce reside in rural areas.
  • The rural areas face formidable economic challenges, including poverty, unemployment, and inequality. Addressing these challenges is crucial for sustainable growth and minimize the rural-urban drift.
  • Making village Self-Reliant can be a powerful tool for lifting people out of poverty, improving their quality of life, and reducing the income disparities that exist between urban and rural regions


Employment Opportunities

  • The proportion of the population depending directly or indirectly on agriculture for employment opportunities is the highest among all the sectors in India.
  • Around 70 percent of rural households still depend on agriculture for their livelihood in the country.
  • Agricultural development in rural India has the potential to generate employment opportunities, extending far beyond the farming sector.


Sustainable Development

  • Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
  • Villages can adopt eco-friendly and regionally appropriate solutions for water, energy, and waste management, thus making a significant contribution to environmental conservation.


Role of Women-

  • The empowerment of women is essential for attaining self-sufficiency at the village level and fostering comprehensive socio-economic national development.
  • Agricultural development initiatives should also focus on promoting gender equality and provisions for women's access to education, health, land, and credit, enabling them to actively participate in farming and decision-making.


Infrastructure Development Need

  • It helps not only enhance the overall quality of life in rural areas but also attract business and investment to these areas.
  • Better infrastructure connects the villages to the market, thus making it easier for the farmers to sell their produce and access resources.


Technology Integration

  • The adoption of modern technology and information systems in agriculture has the potential to significantly boost productivity.
  • Equipping farmers with the necessary tools and knowledge to embrace cutting-edge farming practices is needed to make agriculture more sustainable and productive.
  • This encompasses precision agriculture, data-driven decision-making, and the use of innovative equipment and tools.


Balance of trade- The balance of trade (BOT), also known as the trade balance, refers to the difference between the monetary value of a country's imports and exports over a given time period.

A positive trade balance indicates a trade surplus while a negative trade balance indicates a trade deficit.


Present Status

  • Currently, India has not only achieved self-sufficiency in food grains but has also emerged as a prominent net exporter of agricultural products, occupying 7th position in the world.
  • The import portfolio of agricultural goods in India encompasses a wide variety of agricultural and allied products, such as cereals & cereal preparations, edible oils, unprocessed cashew nuts, raw wool, raw cotton, raw jute and fertilizers.
  • The export basket of India includes a diverse range of agricultural and allied products, such as rice, pulses, fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, tobacco, spices, sugar & molasses, cashew, raw cotton, fish, meat, and processed food.
  • While India's overall trade balance has consistently been negative, the trade balance for agricultural goods has not only remained positive but has also grown nearly 30-fold, with a remarkable compound annual growth rate of 11.59 percent over the past three decades.

  • The major export destinations of India’s agriculture and allied products are Bangladesh, China, Iran, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Netherland, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, the UK, the USA, the United Arab Emirates, etc.
  • Despite a multi-fold expansion in agricultural exports, India's agricultural export basket represents just over 2.5 percent of global agricultural trade.


Government Initiatives- The main focus of government has been on raising productivity, cutting costs, and diversifying towards high-value agriculture crops by introducing supply chain reforms, a streamlined and rational tax system, transparent and concise legal frameworks, a skilled and capable workforce, and a robust financial system.

  • Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, (Self-Reliant India Movement) was announced on 12 May 2020 by the Government of India with a huge economic package of Rs. 20 lakh crores, primarily focusing on promoting local products.
  • Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare enacted three landmark ordinances on 5 June 2020, heralding a new era in Aatmanirbhar Krishi (self-reliant agriculture).
  • The main thrust lies in mitigating market risks, addressing the volatility in food prices, encouraging contract farming, promoting private investments in agricultural supply chains and food processing industries, bolstering export infrastructure, and ultimately elevating the livelihoods of farming communities.
  • Government of India's flagship scheme, the National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) was launched on 14 April 2016, completely funded by the Central Government and implemented by the Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC)
  • The e-NAM platform provides better marketing opportunities for the farmers to sell their produce through an online competitive and transparent price discovery system and ensuring fair prices based on the quality of their produce.
  • Union Government launched a new central sector scheme to form and promote 10,000 new Farmers Producers Organisations (FPOs) in the country by 2027-28.
  • Formation of FPOs will be focused on ‘One District One Product’ for development of product specialization.
  • ‘Vibrant Villages Programme’, specifically targeting villages situated along India's northern border.
  • This visionary programme is designed to revamp and elevate the infrastructure of villages in key states such as Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh, and Sikkim.


Conclusion and Way Forward

Thus, large number of schemes and programmes have been initiated by the Government to make villages Aatmanirbhar (self-reliant) through agricultural development and promoting rural entrepreneurship.

  • It is imperative to adopt a comprehensive strategy for strengthening rural infrastructure, supporting local entrepreneurs, establishing agro-based and cottage industries, ensuring easy access to finance, focusing on education and skill development, and promoting sustainable natural resource management.
  • The ultimate objective extends beyond mere self-sufficiency in villages; it encompasses the creation of flourishing and enduring rural communities that make substantial contributions to the overall economic growth, thus achieving the goals of Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.


UPSC Mains Practice Questions-

Q1. What do you understand by the term 'sustainable agriculture'? Suggest strategies to make agriculture in India sustainable.

Q2. The MSME sector, apart from being the backbone of the Indian economy, plays a great role in ensuring socialist goals like income equality, employment generation, poverty eradication and balanced regional development. Elaborate.

Q3. Despite the growing numbers of rural entrepreneurs, the productivity of such entrepreneurs is concerning. Discuss and also suggest the measures for their sustained growth.