The agricultural sector directly supports over 55% of the nation’s population, contributing over 14% of the GDP and over 11% of exports.
Farm productivity is almost flat, and we need a higher output to support the growing population. Our farm’s current output is much lower than other top market standards. Focused agricultural expansion is necessary to assure inclusiveness, faster global growth, and food security. It is also essential to raise the incomes of those who depend on agriculture.
Reasons for low farm mechanization in India:
- High cost: Farm equipment, especially energy-efficient options, is capital intensive and is a significant investment for most of the farmers in India. A majority of them belong to the low-income bracket.
- Inadequate technical know-how: There is always insufficient technological know-how on using and handling farm machines and equipment.
- With labor shortage for agricultural operations owing to rural urban migration, shift from agriculture to services, and rise in demand for labour in nonfarm activities, there is a need to use labour for agricultural operations judiciously.
- Another notable aspect of Indian agriculture is the high percentage of the female workforce employed in both the cultivation and processing stages of farming. Hence, ergonomically designed tools and equipment for reducing drudgery, enhancing safety, and comfort of women workers, and meeting the needs of women workers would help in better acceptance of technology in agriculture.
- ‘Tractor-isation’ and Not Mechanization – The penetration of tractors has grown from one per 150 hectares to one per 30 hectares on agricultural land. However, such a growth in penetration has not been seen in other agricultural implements. This phenomenon has been dubbed as ‘tractor-isation’. It is to be noted that for a sustainable agricultural future, other farm implements, not just tractors, must be advanced for farmers in the country.
- Small and Scattered Land Holdings: Average farm size in India is less than 2 hectares, which is far lower than regions like European Union (14 hectares) and the US (170 hectares). Large farm machinery is challenging to operate on such land holdings, which in some cases are entirely unsuitable.
Challenges to farm mechanization:
Let’s look at the challenges from the viewpoint of numerous stakeholders:
- Marginal Farmer
It is crucial and necessary to incorporate marginal farmers into the farm mechanization strategy. The main limitations are that a) marginal farmers think advanced technology is complicated and not their cup of tea. The second obstacle is the higher equipment cost and the requirement for significant investment in a range of equipment/size/technology for various conditions/crops.
- Lack of Knowledge
Farmers lack the education and training to use farm equipment and select appropriate farm machinery efficiently. The diverse farm size and soil types result in the need for customized farm machinery and equipment for different regions of the country. Lack of knowledge in the aspects of operation, maintenance, and repair of equipment restricts the use
of farm machinery. Farmers are also most often unable to buy advanced machinery required for farm mechanization. This also impacts the farm output/productivity and hence the farmers’ revenues.
- Future Machines
New machines to be designed and developed. We need adaptable machinery that can be used for different crops, such as multi-crop harvesters and tractors, in addition to adapting. The fusion of farm mechanization and agronomic methods is a further crucial change.
- The infrastructure of Rural India
Improving the infrastructure, and distribution channels and supporting farmers with easy access to spare parts for every farmer at the location, along with technicians’ availability for guidance and knowledge dissemination, would help decrease downtime and increase the confidence to adopt new technologies.
- Credit availability to buy new and used machinery
The purchase of farm equipment is a significant investment for most farmers in India. Hence, reasonable financing norms are a must for ensuring mechanization. An issue that has been persistent in financing is the purchase of standalone implements. With the increasing need for precision implements and machinery other than a tractor, the sector has immense potential for enhanced credit flow. The emerging areas that need attention include the mechanization of labor-intensive operations.
The overall level of mechanization in farming is below 50 percent in the case of majority of the farming operations in India.
The level of farm mechanization in India requires more to be done in terms of introducing better equipment for each farming operation to reduce drudgery, improve efficiency by saving time, labour, improve productivity, minimize wastage and reduce labour costs for each operation.
Agrictools is here to solve these problems, facilitate the farmers in India, and overcome the daily challenges they face in the field.