The government is working on a mission to substitute a major chunk of the dwindling human labour on farms with machines in next five years.
The plan to enhance productivity, profitability and sustainability of agriculture in the country comes at a time when the younger generation is moving to cities in search of education and jobs leaving lesser hands in fields. The move coincides with the agriculture ministry’s criticism of the government flagship programme MG-NREGA, which it said, increased costs and deprived agriculture of labour. Also, at time when the food security bill demands more rice, wheat etc production.
The mission, for which a plan panel committee sought R20, 000 crore in 12th plan, will provide 50% subsidies on purchase of tractors, power tillers etc and 80% incentives on manual and animal based tools.
Apart from subsidy, individual farmers, co-operatives can avail machinery loans with low interest rates and easy repayment terms.
“Wage hike compelled a need to reduce hard labour use particularly by small, medium farmers. A way forward is to increase productivity with new types of machines. We received the proposals but contours of the mission are yet to be decided,” Professor Abhijit Sen, a member of planning commission told HT.
As of now, farmers can avail up to 25% subsidy but on a limted range. The group also proposed custom duty exemption on import of critical farm machinery and components and abolition of excise duty and VAT on agricultural machinery for next 10 years.
Interestingly, the mission is modelled on the Yantradoot programme of Madhya Pradesh. The BJP ruled-state reported 40% rise in yield in some villages of 25 districts following which it extended the farm implements scheme to entire state last year.