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India’s Farm Machinery has Global Market

Context:

The global agricultural sector is grappling with a labor shortage due to urban migration, with India witnessing a decline in farm workers. To address this, there has been a worldwide increase in the use of farming machinery for precise and timely field activities.

Relevance:

GS3-Agriculture, E-technology in the aid of farmers.

Mains Question:

Analyse the steps taken by India to mechanize the farming sector. What more can be done to enhance the degree of mechanisation? (15 marks, 250 words).

Benefits of farm machinery:

  • Collaborative efforts involving humans, machinery, and materials are essential for efficient and timely farming operations.
  • The integration of farm mechanization is critical for achieving optimal output, resource efficiency, and meeting the growing demand for agricultural products.
  • Shifting from traditional to smart farming not only creates growth opportunities but also attracts young talent to innovative agriculture, leading to improved income and enhanced comfort.

Steps taken by India in this regard:

Agricultural Tractors:

India has become a major hub for manufacturing and exporting tractors, forming partnerships with Japanese and German manufacturers. The Asia Pacific region, led by India, dominates the global market, and the demand for agricultural tractors is expected to grow, particularly for autonomous tractors.

Non-tractor machinery:

Apart from tractors, there’s a notable rise in non-tractor agricultural machinery, including power tillers, combine harvesters, diesel engines, and electric motors. 

Challenges in farm mechanization in India:

  • Despite technological advancements since 2010, India’s farm mechanization level remains low.
  • Challenges such as small land holdings and financial constraints hinder efficient mechanization.
  • While there is growth, a significant portion of non-tractor agricultural machinery is still imported from China.
  • Punjab, a major contributor to India’s tractor production, faces logistical challenges and lacks incentives for industries with “Inverted Duty Tax Structures.”
  • Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are dealing with short-term challenges like high raw material prices and semiconductor shortages, prompting them to adopt inorganic growth approaches.
  • The Punjab government’s Industrial and Business Development Policy-2022 lacks incentives for industries with inverted duty tax structures, affecting its goal of becoming an export hub.
  • Central incentives, like the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS), have been replaced by the Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) scheme, leading to reduced export incentives for agricultural implements.

Way Forward:

  • Policymakers need to take strategic actions to foster the growth of this sector in India and position it as a global production and export hub.
  • Smart farming technologies like sensor-based embedded systems and GPS-enabled automated tractors are seen as solutions to overcome many of these challenges.
  • The government needs to address issues such as railway freight policies and provide refunds for duties to boost exports.

Conclusion:

Despite these challenges, India has a competitive advantage in tractor-mounted machinery and can leverage its dual structure to benefit both large and small farmers globally. The road ahead involves addressing policy issues, restoring central incentives, and focusing on becoming a leading provider of non-tractor farm machinery


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