WHAT IS RURAL DEVELOPMENT?
- Rural development is a comprehensive term. It essentially focuses on action for the development of areas that are lagging behind in the overall development of the village economy. Some of the areas which are challenging and need fresh initiatives for development in rural India include
- Development of human resources including – Literacy, more specifically, female literacy, education and skill development – Health, addressing both sanitation and public health
- Land reforms
- Development of the productive resources of each locality
- Infrastructure development like electricity, irrigation, credit, marketing, transport facilities including construction of village roads and feeder roads to nearby highways, facilities for agriculture research and extension, and information dissemination
- Special measures for alleviation of poverty and bringing about significant improvement in the living conditions of the weaker sections of the population emphasising access to productive employment opportunities
CREDIT AND MARKETING IN RURAL AREAS
- Credit: Growth of rural economy depends primarily on infusion of capital, from time to time, to realise higher productivity in agriculture and non-agriculture sectors.
- At the time of independence, moneylenders and traders exploited small and marginal farmers and landless labourers by lending to them on high interest rates and by manipulating the accounts to keep them in a debt-trap.
- A major change occurred after 1969 when India adopted social banking and multi- agency approach to adequately meet the needs of rural credit. Later, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) was set up in 1982 as an apex body to coordinate the activities of all institutions involved in the rural financing system. The Green Revolution was a harbinger of major changes in the credit system as it led to the diversification of the portfolio of rural credit towards production- oriented lending.
AGRICULTURAL MARKET SYSTEM
Agricultural marketing is a process that involves the assembling, storage, processing, transportation, packaging, grading and distribution of different agricultural commodities across the country.
Four such measures that were initiated to improve the marketing aspect.
- The first step was regulation of markets to create orderly and transparent marketing conditions.
- Second component is provision of physical infrastructure facilities like roads, railways, warehouses, godowns, cold storages and processing units.
- Cooperative marketing, in realising fair prices for farmers‘ products, is the third aspect of government initiative.
- The fourth element is the policy instruments like
(i) assurance of minimum support prices (MSP) for agricultural products
(ii) maintenance of buffer stocks of wheat and rice by Food Corporation of India and
(iii) distribution of food grains and sugar through PDS.
- These instruments are aimed at protecting the income of the farmers and providing food grains at a subsidized rate to the poor.
Emerging Alternate Marketing Channels:
- It has been realised that if farmers directly sell their produce to consumers, it increases their incomes. Some examples of these channels are Apni Mandi (Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan); Hadaspar Mandi (Pune); Rythu Bazars (vegetable and fruit markets in Andhra Pradesh) and Uzhavar Sandies (farmers markets in Tamil Nadu).
- In India, the farming community uses the mixed crop-livestock farming system — cattle, goats, fowl are the widely held species.
- Livestock production provides increased stability in income, food security, transport, fuel and nutrition for the family without disrupting other food-producing activities.
- The fishing community regards the water body as mother‘ or provider‘.
- The water bodies consisting of sea, oceans, rivers, lakes, natural aquatic ponds, streams etc. are, therefore, an integral and life-giving source for the fishing community.
- In India, after progressive increase in budgetary allocations and introduction of new technologies in fisheries and aquaculture, the development of fisheries has come a long way.
- Blessed with a varying climate and soil conditions, India has adopted growing of diverse horti- cultural crops such as fruits, vegetables, tuber crops, flowers, medicinal and aromatic plants, spices and plantation crops.
- These crops play a vital role in providing food and nutrition, besides addressing employment concerns.
- The period between1991-2003 is also called an effort to heralding a Golden Revolution‘ because during this period, the planned investment in horticulture became highly productive and the sector emerged as a sustainable livelihood option.