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What do you mean by rural development? Bring out the key issues in rural development.

Rural development primarily focuses on action to be taken for the development of areas which are backward in the overall development of the village economy. Some of the areas which pose a challenge to the progress of our nation include: Land Reforms
  Human Resource development which includes increasing the literacy levels, especially female literacy, female development and also health issues like sanitation and public health.
  Developing the productive resources of each locality
  Infrastructural development like electricity, irrigation, transport, credit, construction of village roads and connectivity to highways, fostering agricultural research, extension and information dissemination.
  Special measures for eradicating of poverty and bringing about significant changes in the standards of living of the weaker sections of the population



Discuss the importance of credit in rural development.

The rural economy can grow only if it has periodic investments made into it. It is this capital which will ensure higher productivity in agriculture. Farmers always have to borrow because the time taken between the time of sowing and actual realization of cash after production is very long.


Explain the role of micro-credit in meeting credit requirements of the poor.

in order to fill the gap created by the formal credit delivery system, Self Help Groups (SHGs) have emerged recently. Some collateral was required for getting credit and hence a large proportion of the poor rural households found themselves out of the credit network. SHGs on the other hand promote savings and thrift. They encourage savings in small proportions by having a minimum contribution from each member. The money thus pooled, is then given as loans to needy members with reasonable return rates and repayable in easy installments.


Explain the steps taken by the government in developing rural markets.

In 1969, India adopted social banking and multi agency approach in order to adequately meet the rural credit. This was a major change. The National bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) was set up in 1982 as an apex body to coordinate all the activities involving the finance of the rural sector. The Green Revolution also brought in major change in the credit system and it led to the diversification of the rural credit portfolio, making it a more production oriented lending.


A set of multi agency institutions namely regional rural banks (RRBs), cooperative and land development banks for the institutional structure of rural banking today. The multi agency system is aimed at dispensing adequate credit at cheaper rates.


Why is agricultural diversification essential for sustainable livelihoods?

The formal credit delivery mechanism has proved to be inadequate and has not fully integrated the overall rural social and community development. Hence in order to fill the gap created by the formal credit delivery system, Self Help Groups (SHGs) have emerged recently. Some collateral was required for getting credit and hence a large proportion of the poor rural households found themselves out of the credit network.


Critically evaluate the role of the rural banking system in the process of rural development in India.

The rural farm and non farm input and output, income and employment were affected positively by the expansion of the banking system. The green revolution and the expanding banking system helped the farmers avail credit facilities, services and a variety of loans to cater to their production needs. Famines became non existent. Today, we have achieved food security and we have an abundant buffer stock of grains. The banking system however is not doing well. There has been consistent underperformance of the formal credit institutions and high incidence of overdue installments by the farmers.

All formal institutions except the commercial banks have failed to find a system of mobilization of deposits. They also failed to lend to worthwhile borrowers and there was a complete failure in the recovery of loans. About 50% of defaulters amongst the defaulters of agricultural loans have been termed as willful defaulters and this has to be controlled as it is a big threat to the banking sector.


What do you mean by agricultural marketing?

The system through which goods reach markets all over the country depends on the market channels. The process of agricultural marketing involves assembling, storage, transportation, processing, grading and the distribution of the various agricultural products across the country.


Mention some obstacles that hinder the mechanism of agricultural marketing.

Before independence, farmers suffered because of faulty weighing and manipulation of accounts while selling their products. Farmers generally did not have information on the prevailing prices of packaging and transportation, hence were forced to sell at low rates. They also lacked proper storage facilities and so could not store and sell their produce at a higher price in the future. Even today 10% of farm produce is wasted due to improper storage.


What are the alternative channels available for agricultural marketing? Give some examples.

It has been found out that whenever the farmers sell their products directly to the consumer, their profits increase because their share in the price paid by the consumer increases. Some examples of such channels which promote the direct selling by the farmers themselves are: Apni Mandi (Punjab, Rajastan and Haryana), Hadaspar Mandi (Pune), Rythu Bazars( fruit and vegetable markets in Andhra Pradesh) and Uzhavar Sandies ( the farmer markets of Tamilnadu). Also, several multinational and national companies are signing contracts with the farmers directly and encouraging them to cultivate farm products like vegetables and fruits. They encourage them to produce goods of the desired quality by providing the farmers with seeds and other essentials. Further the farmers are assured of the produce getting sold at a pre decided price. Such arrangements reduce the risk of the farmer since he does not have to worry about selling the produce. It also leads to the expansion of farm products.


Explain the term ‘Golden Revolution’.

The period between the year 1991 and 2003is termed the ‘Golden Revolution’ due to many reasons and the main reason being the planned investment in horticulture. This sector showed high productivity and emerged as a sustainable option for those who had opted in it. India emerged as a world leader in producing different varieties like mangoes, bananas, coconuts, cashews along with plenty of spices. India also is the second largest producer of vegetables and fruits. Farmers have improved their livelihood by adopting horticulture. Among the other areas where horticulture has lent its hand are flower harvesting, hybrid seed production and tissue culture, propagation of fruits and flowers and food processing. These have proved to be remunerative to farmers and have offered employment to the women of the respective areas.


Explain four measures taken by the government to improve agricultural marketing.

Some of the measures that were taken in order to improve the marketing scenario were:


The initial step taken was to regulate the markets to create orderly and transparent market conditions. This was very beneficial for the farmers as well as the consumers but there still around 27000 rural periodic markets as regulated market places is required in order to realize the full potential of the rural market.
  Next, the provision of physical infrastructural facilities like railways, roads, warehouses, godowns, cold storage and processing units were being introduced but the current infrastructural facilities are quite inadequate.
  The third initiative taken was to introduce cooperative markets so as to realize fair prices for the farmer’s produce. The success of the milk cooperatives in Gujarat is a testimonial of the success of this initiative taken. The milk cooperatives have transformed the social and the economic landscapes of Gujarat and have made a big impact on the standard of living of the farmers. The cooperatives have had a setback during the recent past due t lack of proper coverage of farmer members, improper and insufficient links between the marketing and processing cooperatives and inefficient management of the finances.
  The fourth initiative taken is the introduction of policy instruments like:


Assurance of minimum support price (MSP) for 24 agricultural products.
  Using the Food Corporation of India to maintain a buffer stock of rice and wheat.
  Using the PDS to distribute rice and grains.



Explain the role of non-farm employment in promoting rural diversification.

The diversification into non agricultural sectors not only reduces the risk from agricultural sector but also to provide the rural people with sustainable and productive livelihood options. Diversification is required because there is a big risk if farming happens to be the lone option of livelihood for a majority in the rural sector.

Agricultural work is seasonal and most of it is restricted to the Kharif season. During the Rabi season, the irrigation facilities are inadequate and it becomes difficult to get gainful employment. Hence the expansion into non agricultural sectors becomes very important in order to provide supplementary employment and income so as to increase the level of income of the rural sector and to alleviate poverty in such areas.


Bring out the importance of animal husbandry, fisheries and horticulture as a source of diversification.

The farming community of our country uses mixed crop-livestock farming system. Cattle, fowl and goats are widely held. Livestock production does not disturb the other food producing activities but it still provides a more stable income, food security, transport, fuel and nutrition for the family. Over 70 million small and marginal farmers including landless labourers depend on the livelihood sector to provide alternate livelihood actions.

Water body is regarded as the mother of provider by the fishing community. Seas, oceans, lakes, streams, ponds etc are examples of water bodies and hence are a life giving source for the fishing community of India. After various budget allocations and revenue channeling by the government into the fisheries, technological introduction and research has happened in fisheries and aqua culture. 49% of the total fish production is contributed by the inland sources today. The rest is from the marine sources like seas and oceans. 1.4% of the GDP is accounted by the total fish production. Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamilnadu are the major marine products providing states.

Cultivation of diverse horticulture like fruits, vegetables, tuber crops, flowers, medicinal plants, spices etc is happening in India because of the varying climatic and soil conditions. Horticulture plays a major role in increasing employment and in providing food and nutrition. India is the world leader in producing a variety of fruits like bananas, mangoes, cashew nuts and also a plethora of spices. We are the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables. The financial and economic condition of the farmers involved in horticulture has turned better and horticulture has emerged as a sector which can improve the standard of living of the under privileged masses.


‘Information technology plays a very significant role in achieving sustainable development and food security’ — comment.

The IT industry has revolutionized quite a few sectors of the Indian economy. It is widely believed that IT will play a major role in achieving sustainable development and food security in this century and the future. To quote an example to justify this belief, the prediction of areas of food vulnerability and insecurity by the government using softwares and taking steps so as to prevent or reduce the famine like situation. IT also can garner information about soil, weather, prices, new technologies for growing different crops. It has, very importantly, ushered in a knowledge economy which is worth 1000 times more than the industrial revolution. IT is directly not a catalyst for change, but it helps in identifying the hidden talents in people and is used as toll by them to unleash their creative potential and knowledge. IT is also a livelihood option for the people in the rural sector.


What is organic farming and how does it promote sustainable development?

Today the awareness about the harmful effects of the pesticides is quite high. Conventional agriculture is heavily dependent on chemical fertilizers and pesticides which are toxic in nature. These enter the food supply, penetrate the water resources, cause harm to the livestock, deplete the soil and destroy the eco systems. Evolving eco friendly technologies are important in order to achieve sustainable development. One such technology is organic farming. Organic agriculture is a whole system of farming which restores, maintains and enhances the balance of the eco systems. The demand for organically grown food in order to enhance food safety is growing rapidly.


Identify the benefits and limitations of organic farming.

Organic agriculture is a means to substitute costlier organic inputs like HYV seeds, chemical fertilizers, pesticides etc with domestically produced organic inputs which are cheaper. Hence organic agriculture generates more returns than conventional agriculture. There are returns from international exports too because there is a growing demand for organically grown crops. Organically grown foods have been proved to have more nutritional value than chemically grown food, hence they are much more healthy. Since organic farming requires more labour inputs, we can use it as a way of generating more employment. The produce is pesticide free and is environment friendly.


Enlist some problems faced by farmers during the initial years of organic farming.

Organic farming will grow and become popular only if the farmers are willing to adopt a new technology. Lack of infrastructure and the problem of marketing organic products are the two roadblocks to the adoption of organic farming. The yields from organic farming in the initial years are less and so small and medium farmers may find it difficult to survive on organic farming. Organic food has lesser shelf life. The choice of production of crops during the off season is quite limited in organic farming. Despite all the drawbacks, organic farming is eco friendly and a sustainable method. India has a clear advantage in adopting this method.

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