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Agricultural Infrastructure Development – A Step Forward

Introduction

Indian agriculture first appeared around 1100 BC. India currently holds the second-place global position in terms of farm outputAll activities involved in cultivating plants and animals to produce food and commodities that people can use and enjoy collectively are called “agriculture.” One aspect of agriculture, which also covers plant science and entails cultivating the soil and rearing livestock, is farming. In emerging nations, agriculture is the principal industry providing employment. The livelihood of two-thirds of the people in emerging nations depends on agriculture, either directly or indirectly. A little more than 54.6% of the population is employed in agriculture[1] and related industries, but the sector’s contribution to total GVA increased to 20.2% in 2020–21 and 18.8% in 2021–22 (India’s GDP from agriculture fell from 4933.25 INR billion in the second quarter to 4243.86 INR billion in the third quarter of 2022)[2]

 The advancement of Economic Infrastructure Development in the Indian agriculture industry began with a prosperous agricultural strategy in the third five-year plan ‘Green Revolution Technology,’ which was adopted to irrigate areas from 1965 to 1978, primarily in parts of Punjab, western Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana[3]. The green revolution primarily pertained to both wheat and rice in that era. The modern tech recommended using groundwater because the irrigation infrastructure was so inadequate. As a result, Indian farmers began using tube wells for harvesting. The popularity of this technology spread in the 1970s and 1980s to eastern Indian states including West Bengal, Bihar, and Odisha. India’s agricultural policy began to focus more on aligning supply with demand in the 1980s. As a result, other agricultural products such as oilseeds, fruits, and vegetables were produced[4]. Further, farmers in India started implementing new technologies and other scientific techniques in the dairy industry. As a result, the above-mentioned were cultivated. Indian farmers also started implementing modern technologies and other scientific dairy farming, animal husbandry and fishery techniques.

Climate change, pests and illnesses, irrigation, water, loans, etc. are all major issues that Indian farmers must contend with. Agricultural sector issues demand system innovation rather than just one actor acting alone to solve them. Agriculture’s production, processing, and marketing processes are dynamic as a result of the ongoing changes in customer demand and expectations. To address agriculture’s current issues, innovation is necessary. Agriculture in these areas needs to be developed to improve the conditions of these people. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) in agriculture today offer chances for undertaking cutting-edge research, creating new technology, and introducing new goods to benefit small-scale, resource-poor farmers, as well as other socially marginalised populations in developing nations.

Infrastructure development and its history

The infrastructure of a nation, city, or other geographic area encompasses all the resources and services needed for the operation of the economy, households, and enterprises. The development of India’s core infrastructure, including its ports, railroads, posts, and telegraphs, occurred during the colonial era, although not for the benefit of the general populace. The drawback of poorly constructed roads, particularly during the rainy season, was that they were unfit for use in contemporary India and could not connect rural communities.

However, one of the most significant achievements made by the British in 1850 was the development of the railway system. In two ways, this project changed the Indian economy. First, it encouraged long-distance travel and let people cross geographical barriers. Second, it commercialised Indian agriculture, which harmed the viability of the rural economy in India. The colonial government took attempts to strengthen the sea lanes and inland trade along with the development of roads and railways. Although it was a helpful contribution to society, it was still insufficient for postal services.

 Public and private physical constructions including roads, trains, bridges, tunnels, water supplies, sewage systems, electrical grids, and telephones are all considered part of the infrastructure. According to one definition, infrastructure is “the physical components of interconnected systems delivering commodities and services required to enable, sustain, or enhance societal living circumstances” and preserve the environment. Since 1875, the word “infrastructure” has been used in both French and English, originally denoting “installations that serve as the foundation for any operation or system.”[5] It is a loanword from French, where it was already used to describe the creation of a substrate material roadbed that was necessary before completed pavement or railroad tracks could be erected on top of it.

Infrastructure’s various forms:

Economic infrastructure: The growth of the economy of a nation or organisation is closely related to this infrastructure. This includes the essential amenities and services that directly influence the production process of the economic distribution and benefit from it. Economic infrastructures include things like transportation, irrigation, communication, and other types of infrastructure.

Social infrastructure: This kind of infrastructure provides fundamental services that boost personal productivity and advance social goals. The nation’s economic progress is indirectly influenced by social infrastructure. For instance, the education industry does not immediately support a nation’s economic growth. However, ensuring that children have access to a top-notch education indirectly helps to produce medical professionals, researchers, engineers, and technicians. Several examples of social infrastructure include housing, sanitation, health care, and water supply.

Infrastructure in Agriculture: Its Function

When it comes to the provision of inputs, planting of crops, and post-harvest management, infrastructure is essential in agriculture at every stage. To increase output and reduce post-harvest costs, capital investment in the agribusiness sector is essential. This will also lead to community empowerment and higher wage creation. Post-harvest losses are significantly greater in India due to a lack of fundamental agricultural infrastructure, including storage facilities, packing facilities, and an appropriate supply chain, among other things. Considering the aforementioned, India’s Ministry of Agriculture has developed a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Credit Facility under the “Agriculture Infrastructure Fund” which was initiated by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India on August 9, 2020[6] to create a post-harvest management framework and communal farming holdings, the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund aims to provide moderate-term debt financial assistance via 3% interest subvention and credit guarantee support on loans until 2025–2026. Assets related to local agriculture that qualify for Agri Infra Fund include:

“(i) Organic inputs manufacturing

(ii) Facilities that produce biofertilizers

(iii) Facilities that produce biofertilizers

(iv) Infrastructure for intelligent and precise agriculture

(v) Programs for building supply chain infrastructure for crop clusters, including export clusters, have been identified.

(vi) Projects supported by Central, State, Local, or their agencies under PPP for developing post-harvest alongside the project or communal farming resources.

A total of 18321 projects have received loans totalling Rs. 13681 Crores since the scheme’s launch in August 2020”[7]

Effect of Public Private Partnership model in the development of the agriculture sector? 

An agreement that involves two or more public and commercial sectors working together cooperatively and long-term is known as a public-private partnership (PPP). A public-private partnership is a legally binding agreement between a government agency and a private sector organisation. The expertise and resources of each sector are combined through this agreement to produce a service or a facility for use by the general public. Each partner shares possible risks and rewards associated with providing the assistance or utilizing the facility, in proportion to the resources they possess. The PPP strategy augments scarce public resources, fosters increased competition, lowers costs, and increases efficiency. Varied types of services have different justifications for involving the public sector, which affects the nature of that engagement. PPPs can strengthen the connection between farmers and markets by assisting the former to forge tighter links with agribusiness companies in a more equitable manner while receiving the direction and assistance of the public sector and NGOs. Public-Private Partnerships can considerably support the development of sustainable agriculture in underdeveloped nations. Smallholders must meet certain prerequisites in terms of prior knowledge, resources, and assets before they may be considered for participation in agro-PPPs. As a result, the outcomes for the poorest farmers—for whom this strategy is probably unsuitable—are less encouraging.

Public Private Partnerships in various forms that apply to Agriculture Sector:

(i) Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT)

(ii) Build-Operate Own

(iii) Leasing

(iv) Concession

(v) Joint Ventures

(vi) Operational/Service management contracts

(vii) Informal Public-Private Co-operation

 Conclusion

Agriculture’s present support system has evolved and will need to do so again in the future. In addition to greater capacity, these changes will also call for technological advancements. These adjustments are not made automatically, in a vacuum, or just for the public or private. They will require a planned, informed, involved, and coordinated effort from several agricultural industry stakeholders. This comprises those who produce, process, and consume agricultural products as well as the policy- and decision-makers who oversee the initiatives and procedures that have an impact on infrastructure.

Author(s) Name: Shreya Dhyani (Galgotias University)

References:

[1] Dr. Neelam Patel and Dr. Tanu Sethi, Rural women: Key to New India’s Agrarian Revolution, NITI AAYOG (2021),https://www.niti.gov.in/sites/default/files/202203/Rural_Women_Neelam_Tanu_article_03032022.pdf

[2]PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU, https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1880006, (last visited Jan. 12, 2023).

[3] WIKIPEDIA, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Revolution_in_India (last visited Jan. 22, 2023).

[4] Debajit Roy and Fazlul Haque Khan, Problems and prospects of oilseeds production in West Bengal, VISVA BHARATI, (2023), https://www.visvabharati.ac.in/file/final-report-173.pdf

[5] WIKIPEDIA, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infrastructure, (last visited Jan. 12, 2023).

[6]PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU, https://pib.gov.in/Pressreleaseshare.aspx?PRID=1783870

(last visited Jan. 12, 2023).

[7] Id.