ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Bettering Rural Agricultural Practices

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While India has made considerable socio-economic progress, inequalities have continued to rise, and much of rural India leads a difficult life, with income and consumption levels at less than half of that of the urban citizens. The gap is wider when one draws comparisons with metro and tier 1 cities. A disconcerting aspect is that emerging opportunities for economic growth are very urban-centric, catering to domestic and international markets in the field of finance, information technologies, apparel exports, and recreation. The participation of rural India in the country’s economy seems restricted to putting food on the table. The reality is that India operates in a capitalistic society. The incomes that farmers would draw are dictated by supply and demand, and with food prices being linked to food security, income levels from cultivating foodgrains and horticulture are limited. The world is waking up to agro-waste as a source of energy and fuel for transportation. Much of the organised sector across the world draws revenue and profits by providing value to the society. A very simple question to ask is, what are the assets that rural India has which could be of value to the society? To answer this question, one needs to follow the value chain of production of foodgrains.

Growing foodgrains is a 90-to-120 day manufacturing cycle. It starts with tilling the soil, sowing, watering, de-weeding, watering, removing pests, and watering till the crops flower and bear seeds that are ripe for harvest. While the yield for rice is about 2,000 kg per acre, the foodgrains that one harvests are only a fraction of the biomass that is actually grown. The rest, which are blades of leaves, stem, and root stalk, are barely monetised in today’s world. With shrinking livestock and restrictions on selling bovine animals, the farmers are in a hurry to dispose of the biomass. This is often burnt, even in sections of South India, and certainly so in the kharif season in northern India. Yet, biotechnology has evolved now to convert almost anything edible into alcohol. In agrarian countries such as Brazil, the industry is mandated to blend in 25% bioethanol with gasoline for automobiles. Major corporates such as Novozymes in the United States have multimillion dollar product lines to enable farmers to convert their agro-waste into bioethanol. Companies like iH2—a spin-off from Shell—have commercial pyrolysis plants to convert organic wastes into liquid fuels.

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Updated On : 30th Oct, 2021
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