The government has decided on a comprehensive push for mechanisation of agriculture, by setting up machinery hiring centres in every village in the 12th Plan period.
These machinery is to be leased for harvest with support from states and the Centre (in either a 10:90 or 20:80 proportion). The entire mission is expected to get an outlay of Rs 20,000-25,000 crore, sources said.
According to senior official sources, this will be part of a new technological mission on agricultural extension. Officials said the machinery would also be provided for off-season usage, like tractors for transportation. Only a few private companies were engaged in manufacture of agricultural machinery and these were quite expensive for the average farmer to procure during harvest. A gram panchayat or some well-to-do farmers might procure these for harvest, but everybody could not reap the benefit. Officials also hope this measure would prod private manufacturers to bring down prices.
The selection of machinery for a region would be based on the cropping pattern. For example, machines for rice plantation in rice growing regions, cotton pickers for western and parts for southern India, soil levellers across the country, among others. Besides, the technology part of the mission will involve importing it for various machinery from foreign countries, by buying the patents. After that , the government proposes to give these franchises to Indian manufacturers to start mass production. Technology will be primarily imported from America, Brazil, China and Australia, where there is large-scale mechanisation in agriculture.
Besides, the Union ministry of agriculture proposes to extend subsidised loans at four per cent for mechanisation. The proposal, being worked on, aims at encouraging farmers to create assets by purchasing machines. At present, loans at a subsidised four per cent are only available for crop-related inputs like seeds and farming.
The government is putting more emphasis on creation of assets in agriculture. Sources said while agriculture remains the mainstay for the Indian economy, mechanisation is weak and restricted to big farmers. On the other hand, India has a big contribution in the global food and agriculture market, exporting and importing foodgrain and cash crops on a large scale. At the same time, many uncertain factors affect agriculture and sale of equipment in India, such as the monsoon, government-declared support prices for crops, commodity prices, crop production expenses (costs) and the credit policy.