Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs)

A majority population in South Asia lives in rural areas. They largely depend on agriculture as their primary source of income and employment.

India has already completed the 50th years of the Green Revolution which was started in 1967.  As a consequence, the Green Revolution rescued India from starvation in the 1960s with the introduction of a new breed of wheat. Since then, India is successfully producing sufficient food grains to feed its citizens. It is witnessed that the uneven monsoon created havoc in various parts of the country from time to time.

Agriculture has delivered a massive benefit to humanity. One cannot imagine the existence of civilisation without the contribution of agriculture. It evolved and passed through various phases.

Several centuries ago, hunter and gatherers started settling and domesticated various animals. With the invention of fire and the iron, agriculture gained a momentum and spread across the globe. Following such new agricultural practices, the surplus production took place in various parts of the world. It intensified economic activities across the globe as historical evidence showed.

As we all know, India attained the independence in 1947. We inherited a crumbled agriculture sector where a huge number of people depended on it for their survival.

Since then, agriculture technology contributed significantly to reduce poverty and hardship in India. Consistent with this goal, the government subsidised agro-chemicals, equipment and seeds. Farmers used various techniques to increase the production. As showed by researchers, the inappropriate use of fertilisers a matter of serious concern in many states.  It also aggravated the condition of agricultural produces and soil. In this backdrop, there is a need to understand the Good Agriculture Practice (GAP).

Relevance the Good Agriculture Practice in India: 

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) defined that GAP is a set of recommendations that play an important role in improving quality and safety of agricultural produce. This general guideline can be adopted and incorporated into any production system.

In recent years, the concept of GAP has evolved to address the concerns of different stakeholders about food production and security, food safety and quality, and the environmental sustainability of agriculture.

Typical Production Stages in Agriculture:

Ø Site Selection

Ø Planting

Ø Irrigation

Ø Crop management –fertilisation

Ø Crop management –Crop protection

Ø Harvesting

Ø Storage

Source: Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)

Ensuring quality and safety in agriculture

Agriculture depends on soil and climate. Agro-climatically, India is a diverse country and Monsoon plays an important role in agricultural production in India. As the State of Indian Agriculture 2015-16 report estimated, “Since the beginning of economic reforms in 1991, growth in agricultural GDP has shown high volatility. It has fluctuated from 4.8 percent per annum in the Eighth Five Year Plan (1992-96) to a low of 2.4 percent during the Tenth Plan (2002-06) before rising to 4.1 percent in the Eleventh Plan (2007-12).”

Recently, the World Economic Forum (WEF) put various fascinating facts about Indian middle class. The WEF stated that households in India with high disposable income have risen twenty-fold since 1990. It further added that half of the total population are now middle class. With widening the horizon of the middle class, demand for the quality food items escalated in India.

Expanding purchasing power, increasing input costs and a sizeable middle class put pressure on Indian farmers. It is evident that they are desperate to produce more.

Agricultural practices largely benefitted from the technological advancement at the global level. In this backdrop, ensuring quality and safety in agriculture is a big challenge for farmers as well as the government. To improve nutrition in India, health and good quality products are vital and the government acknowledged the urgent need to cope with such challenges.

Agricultural Practices and its Challenges:
Crop production and management are curial parts of agriculture that deal with growing crops and managing it efficiently. In a country like India, farmers grow various types of crops throughout the year. It is evident that the different region is popular for different kinds of crops. For example, farmers in the hilly region grow apples, tea and similar food items. On the other hand, the Southern part of India is well-known for various kinds of spices. Its eastern part is popular for rice.

Generally, crops in India can be categories into three types. These are Kharif (Monsoon season), Rabi (winter), and Jaayad (summer). Farmers sow different kinds of crops during these seasons. They grow rice in Kharif season, wheat in Rabi season and vegetables in Jaayad. Sowing different crops need different kinds of treatments ranging from irrigation to use of fertiliser. The entire process is an interdisciplinary. It requires a host preparations and alertness from all stakeholders.

Modern methods of irrigation help farmers in various ways. In the backdrop of increasing input cost, farmers will save their hard earn money. Another important aspect is storage of grains. After harvesting, a proper storage of grains is necessary.  Ensuring appropriate storage is an important task. If the food grains are to be kept for a longer time, it must be safe from moisture, rats and microorganisms.

Many crops in India are input and labour intensive. Environmentally, they are hazards and consume a lot of water.  Studies elsewhere showed that the water table in various parts of India is decreasing. On the other hand, a huge number of farmers are not aware of such alarming condition. In this backdrop, awareness about the Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) is highly desirable. The GAPs equip them to cope with such challenges.

The smallholding is a striking feature of Indian agriculture. Being a tropical country, average farm size in India is 1.15 hectare. Agriculture engages a huge number of small and marginal farming households. It retains its centrality in employment generation in the rural areas.  This course will be beneficial for participants who are willing to improve farm produce and willing to become farm manager, consultant, auditor, quality manager etc.

Globally, the good agricultural practice pushed a large of proportion of the population living in poverty is quite high. In a communication with eQuest, Ajay Vir Jakhar (Chairman of Bharat Krishak Samaj) shed light on a host of challenges in the GAPs. Jakhar is one of the most credible voices in the agriculture sector.  He grows citrus (popularly known as Kinnu) in Punjab. A couple of years back, Jakhar applied for certification for citrus. In order to proceed, he approached a consultant for filling the certification.

As Jakhar said, “I think the cost of certification is very high for many farmers. Its process is complex. Farmers need a consultant to fill such forms which are very difficult for many farmers. Another important thing is a certification should have a tangible benefit for farmers.”  Jakhar added that a certification of the good agricultural practice is important for those farmers who export their produce.

Realising the potential of the food sector, the Government of India allowed 100 per cent FDI in the marketing of food products produced and manufactured in India. This policy decision enables the global players to invest in the food processing, supply chain and marketing. In this backdrop, the global players can source all essential food grains, pulses, fish and other food items locally.

After two successive droughts in various states, Indian agriculture sector is registering more than 4 per cent growth as estimated by the official sources. To deal with the low productivity of agriculture sector, India needs a localised agricultural approach.

As the Union Government spearheaded a set of policy to doubling the income of the farmers, our e-learning course includes vital components of the good agriculture practices. These are site selection, soil management, seeds, irrigation, harvesting, weeding, manures and fertilisers. You will learn a host of agricultural practices in the real time. Professionally, it will widen the horizon of the learners. You can use our course to improve your skills and knowledge.  Our e-learning courses include high-quality video lectures, practice, and a set of recommended readings. It is evident that a huge number of learners face the challenges in understanding various terminologies.  To entice the learners, we carefully defined essential terminologies from the agriculture sector. We hope that it will equip you to understand nuances of the agriculture sector.

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