Keywords: Agricultural Sector Decline, Covid-19 Pandemic Impact, Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), Doubling Farmers’ Income, Agricultural Policy Interventions
Abstract: In recent years, there has been a noticeable decline in the agricultural sector's contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This decline has been substantial, dropping from 50 percent in 1950 to 16.5 percent in the fiscal year 2019-20. Notably, amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, agriculture remains a shining exception, demonstrating a positive growth rate of 3.4 percent during the first quarter of the 2020-21 financial year. Farmers in India grapple with a multitude of challenges, including issues related to land and water resource scarcity, inadequate infrastructure such as poorly maintained roads, limited access to financial services, and a lack of access to modern agricultural technologies. In response to these challenges, the government has set an ambitious goal to double farmers' income by the year 2022-23. This involves addressing the fundamental issues plaguing the agricultural sector. One of the government's key strategies in achieving this objective is the promotion of farmer producer organizations (FPOs) as the most suitable institutional framework for farmers to unite and enhance their collective capacity to improve production and marketing. FPOs are composed of smallholder farmers who come together with the common aim of enhancing their livelihoods through improved farming practices, more effective marketing strategies, and local processing activities. Regrettably, the adoption of new technologies and contemporary marketing practices remains limited within the majority of FPOs in India. To achieve the goal of doubling farmers' income and ensure the sustainability of FPOs, it is imperative that the government actively promotes and supports these organizations through well-considered policy interventions. This support will be instrumental in elevating the agricultural sector and, in turn, the livelihoods of India's farming communities.
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