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Boosting Farm Efficiency through Mechanization



  Sep 20, 2023

The Need for Farm Mechanization



Agriculture mechanization serves as a crucial tool for enhancing farm operations and outcomes.
While mitigating drudgery is an important outcome, it primarily aims to improve precision, efficiency, cost-effectiveness, productivity, and profitability in farming.
Moreover, factors like the scarcity of farm labor and rising wage rates further drive the adoption of machines.

India's Farm Mechanization Challenge

Despite its importance, farm mechanization in India remains below par, officially standing at 47%. This level falls significantly behind China's 60% and Brazil's 75%.
In agriculturally advanced nations, where land holdings are larger and fewer people are engaged in farming, more than 95% of farm work is mechanized.
While India doesn't require such high mechanization, its current level is insufficient and needs enhancement.

Small Farms and Technology

Farm mechanization isn't limited by farm size; it can benefit small and large farms alike.
A Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture recommends greater use of machines, including tiny robots and artificial intelligence (AI), for India's small and marginal farms, which constitute nearly 86% of all farm holdings.

Wide-Ranging Benefits of Mechanization

The benefits of farm mechanization are far-reaching. It reduces labor requirements by 20-30%, decreases seed usage by 15-20%, enhances seed germination by 7-25%, and cuts weed removal costs by 20-40%.
Most importantly, mechanization can increase cropping intensity by 5-20%, resulting in an overall crop yield improvement of 13-23%.

Government's Role in Advancing Mechanization

A panel calls upon the government to accelerate farm mechanization, aiming for a 75% mechanization level much earlier than the stipulated 25 years.

Factors Influencing Mechanization

Farmers' decisions to mechanize are influenced by multiple factors, including their economic status, cropping patterns, water availability for irrigation, agro-ecological conditions, and access to credit and equipment subsidies.
Consequently, mechanization levels vary across regions.

Assessment of Mechanization Levels

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) reports varying mechanization levels across operations and crops. Seedbed preparation enjoys over 70% mechanization, while wheat sowing reaches 65%.
However, transplanting paddy is still largely manual, as is cotton harvesting.

Challenges and Solutions

Possessing farm machinery has become a status symbol, leading farmers to acquire equipment larger than required for their landholdings, resulting in inefficient resource allocation.
To address this, common facilities like custom-hiring centers and farm-machinery banks should provide equipment when needed.
Currently, progress in setting up such facilities is insufficient, with around 38,000 custom-hiring centersand 17,700 farm-machinery banks.
Encouraging the development of small and simple machines by small and medium enterprises could further accelerate agricultural mechanization in India.


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