A Parliamentary panel has said that India will need another 25 years more to achieve farm mechanisation level already achieved by Brazil, also a developing country. Asking the government to achieve that level earlier, the panel has said that unless machines appropriate for small holdings are made available or substantial farm amalgamation takes place, it will be difficult for the small and marginal farmers to purchase their own machinery.

The report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Food Processing on “Research and Development in Farm Mechanization for Small and Marginal Farmers in the Country”, placed in the Lok Sabha on February 7, said that the overall agriculture mechanisation level of the country is 47 per cent, which is comparatively lower than that of other developing countries such as China (59.5 per cent) and Brazil (75 per cent).

“It is expected that another 25 years are required to achieve the level of 75-80 per cent mechanisation from the present level of 47 per cent,” the report said.

The government has already working to make India a developed country by 2047 and the Agriculture Ministry should work hard to ensure that farm mechanisation does not fall below Brazil’s level even after becoming a developed country, a member of the panel said.

Stressing that farmers need a complete mechanisation package for major crops, the Committee said that the contribution of agricultural mechanisation in India leads to a 15-20 per cent saving in seed, 15-20 per cent in fertiliser, 7-25 per cent improvement in germination rate, 20-30 per cent saving in time, 20-40 per cent in weed, and 20-30 per cent in labour. Furthermore, it also said that agricultural mechanisation increases 5-20 per cent in cropping intensity and 13-23 per cent in crop yield.

As 86 per cent of the 14 crore farmers in the country are small and marginal farmers with less than two hectare of land and who do not have adequate funds to purchase capital intensive implements, the Committee has suggested that farm machinery should be developed and further incentivised for those farmers.

It also noted that the government has taken various initiatives and is helping farmers by providing subsidy to procure machinery to improve farm input and farm-power availability. However, it said, “the Committee strongly desires that the government must strive hard to achieve a level of 75 per cent in farm mechanisation from the present level of 47 per cent in a much shorter period than that which has been stated by the Department, which is 25 years.”

Noting that the Ministry of Agriculture was silent on this recommendation, it said, “The Committee, therefore, once again stresses upon the Department that the desired farm mechanisation level should be achieved in a shorter period than the period, which has been stated by the Department. The Committee would like to be informed of the action taken in this regard.”

The report also mentioned that the Agriculture Ministry has already stated about various constraints in farm mechanisation, including the average size of operational holdings, which is shrinking in all States and the increasing number of marginal, small, and semi-medium operational holdings due to continuing fragmentation of land. Still, the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare is actively boosting mechanisation levels by implementing the Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) to overcome existing constraints in agriculture.