[Editorial Analysis] Strengthening agriculture

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: Agri value chain
Mains level: Importance of an Agricultural Value System Platform

Context:

• A similar vision has been presented through these Bills—a lady, for example, sitting in Jodhpur, would be able to trade in mustard in a mandi of Punjab.

• The proposed reforms pave the way for introducing technology into agriculture through which crops can be managed remotely.

Background:

• On September 14, the government replaced the three ordinances issued during the lockdown by introducing a trio of Bills on agriculture reforms in Parliament—Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020.

• Farmers (Empowerment and protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020; and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

• These Bills present a global vision for agriculture with seamless opportunities for farmers and the agri-fraternity.

• The step aims to marry agriculture with technology and the government is of the view that the proposed agri-market reforms will attract investment in infrastructure and offer farmers competitive remuneration.

Implications from these reforms:

• These reforms are well-intentioned and will help connect archaic India with real India, and to achieve that an integrated platform play would be required.

• Though doubts have been raised over the existence of the traditional system of mandis, going by the fine print of the proposals of these Bills it can be said that mandis aren’t going anywhere and their importance is only going to amalgamate into a larger vision.

• The proposed reforms pave the way for introducing technology into agriculture through which crops can be managed remotely.

• These intend to make tech-driven warehouses a virtual mandi where trading could be done through trading platforms.

Required smart warehousing:

• For this paradigm shift what is required is smart warehousing—where smart warehouses are integrated with real-time data embedded in artificial intelligence doing real-time tracking of facilities and providing error-free results on the status of the warehouse and the products stored within as well as in transit.

• A smart warehouse linked to such platforms using paperless quality control, paperless trading and financing could usher in an era for a platform play in the agri-market and the companies with smart warehousing would act as stimuli in streamlining the agri-environment.

Integrated Paperless Framework for Agri-food Trade Facilitation:

• For this, focus must be on the development of an Integrated Paperless Framework for Agrifood Trade Facilitation with embedded components such as paperless quality control, paperless trading and financing.

• Agro and food commodities are particularly subject to severe hygiene standards in storage facilities as inappropriate humidity or randomly variable temperatures may alter product quality, making them unfit for consumption, and therefore humidity data are inevitably collected at all stages in a storage process.

• Now if the entire system of quality control moves to a paperless system then the data could be obtained in real-time which will ensure that all processes are connected from inputs to outputs and are traceable.

• It can then be embedded in a smart warehouse that will make it easier to monitor the composition of each lot precisely along the chain.

• Trade in agricultural and food products is more complex than trade in manufacturing—regulations are stricter, paperwork is more cumbersome and logistics are more complex.

Conclusion:

• Therefore, a paperless system would not only increase the efficiency of agri-trade, but would also help in the conversion of warehousing into smart warehousing, thus guaranteeing food security for all.

• Once that is achieved, the realisation of the vision of transforming Indian agriculture into a profession with seamless opportunities won’t be difficult.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the International Day of Older Persons, consider the following statements:

1. International Day of Older Persons is being observed on 1 October.

2. This year has been recognised as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife”.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

Mains Questions:

Q.1) What do you understand by Agriculture Value Chain? How it is different from supply chain for other products? Explain highlighting the importance of an Agricultural Value System Platform.

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