Seedbed preparation, especially for rice and wheat crops, is highly mechanised in India compared to other crops, the Centre told the Rajya Sabha on Friday.
Replying to a query on the mechanisation of Indian agriculture, Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister, said farm mechanisation levels assessed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) for major cereals, pulses, oilseeds, millets and cash crops indicate that the seedbed preparation operation is highly mechanised (over 70 per cent) for major crops.
In seedbed preparation, the mechanisation level is higher in rice and wheat crops as compared to other crops. However, mechanisation level for sowing operation is the highest for wheat crop at 65 per cent, he said.
Harvesting and threshing operations are the least mechanised (lower than 32 per cent) for major crops, except for rice and wheat crops. In case of harvesting and threshing, the mechanisation levels in rice and wheat crops are more than 60 per cent.
The mechanisation level in planting/transplanting operation for sugarcane is 20 per cent, he said. The adoption of mechanisation by the farmers depends on various factors such as socio-economic conditions, geographical conditions, crops grown, irrigation facilities, etc., the minister said.
To a separate question on the production of Darjeeling tea, Anupriya Patel, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, said the production of Darjeeling tea in India stood at 6.54 million kgs (mkg) and exports at 3.02 mkg till November of 2022.
India produced 7.01 mkg and 6.70 mkg of Darjeeling tea in 2021 and 2020, respectively. The export of Darjeeling tea from India stood at 3.56 mkg and 3.10 mkg in 2021 and 2020, respectively.
Tea Board under the Tea Development and Promotion Scheme has been extending financial assistance to the tea stakeholders across the country, including Darjeeling Tea, she said.
Stating that Darjeeling tea is protected by certification trademark and Geographical Indication, the minister said it has a distinct logo.
Sugar export curbed
To a query on sugar exports, Anupriya Patel said export of sugar has been moved from ‘free’ to ‘restricted’ list during sugar season 2021-22 with effect from June 1 2022. The restrictions on export of sugar have been extended up to October 31 2023. This has been done in order to prevent uncontrolled export of sugar and with a view to ensure sufficient availability of sugar for domestic consumption, she said.
India exported 66.67 lakh tonnes (lt) of sugar valued $3211.30 million till November of 2022-23. Export of sugar from India had reached a record of 104.57 lt, valued $4602.65 million in 2021-22.
To a query on the import of natural rubber into India, Anupriya Patel said around 4.18 lt of natural rubber (NR) valued ₹6279.9 crore was imported during April-December of 2022-23. The country had imported 5.46 lt of NR valued ₹7702.7 crore during 2021-22.
With the objective to regulate the import of NR, the government had increased the duty on import of dry rubber from 20 per cent or ₹30 per kg, whichever is lower, to bound rate of 25 per cent or ₹30 per kg, whichever is lower, with effect from April 30, 2015.
The government had also reduced the period of utilisation of imported dry rubber under advance licensing scheme from 18 months to six months in January 2015. The port of entry for import of NR had also been restricted to ports at Chennai and Nhava Sheva in January 2016.
In the Union Budget 2023-24, the rate of custom duty on compound rubber has been increased from 10 per cent to 25 per cent as that on NR. “The above steps are expected to promote domestic production of natural rubber and keep its prices buoyant,” she said.
To a query on Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), Narendra Singh Tomar said the total number of farmer applications for the scheme was at 8.32 crore during 2021-22. Farmers paid a premium of ₹3,772.1 crore, State governments paid a premium of ₹13,929.9 crore and the Centre paid a premium of ₹12,562.1 crore during 2021-22. Claims paid under the scheme was ₹14,716.9 crore during 2021-22.
As per provisions of the PMFBY/RWBCIS (Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme), premium from farmers, along with Central and State governments’ share in premium subsidy, is paid to the insurance company concerned for acceptance of risk and payment of claims.
Insurers save premium in good seasons/years and pay high claims, if any, in bad years from the savings made in the good years, he said.
Further, difference between premium collected and claims paid may not be the margin/profit for the insurance companies as there is a cost of reinsurance and administrative cost which generally range up to 10 per cent to 12 per cent of gross premium. This cost also has to be borne by the insurance companies.
Out of the total crop insurance business under the scheme, about 50 per cent is shared by the five public sector insurance companies, the minister said.
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