States may soon start receiving extra funding for the Agriculture Ministry’s flagship schemes on the basis of their performance in encouraging agri-business, especially with regard to marketing, land and governance reforms.
The Centre expects to roll out a new Ease of Doing Agri-Business Index early next year, which will rank the States on the basis of such reforms, as well as their investment in agriculture, increased productivity, reduction of input costs, and risk mitigation measures. “In future, the Ministry may consider rewarding the higher performing States [both in absolute and incremental terms] by linking the performance with allocation from flexi funds made available in various flagship schemes of this Ministry,” says a recent concept note for the Index.
NITI Aayog already brings out a Agricultural Marketing and Farm Friendly Reforms Index, rating States on their implementation of such reforms. In the initial edition of that Index in 2016, Maharashtra stood first in the rankings, followed by Gujarat.
The proposed index has a wider ambit, but the focus is still on reforms, with marketing reforms (25%) and governance and land reforms (20%) carrying almost half of the weight of the parameters in its scoring system.
Soil health cards
Another major parameter which States will be rated on is their success in reducing the cost of farm inputs (20%) by distributing soil health cards and encouraging organic farming and micro-irrigation. Risk mitigation measures such as crop and livestock insurance carry a 15% weightage, while increased productivity and investment in agriculture carry a 10% weight each.
The parameters are process-oriented, and are meant to evolve as and when new reforms or initiatives are proposed, says the concept note.
As agriculture is a State subject, the success of policies and reform initiatives proposed at the Centre is dependent on implementation by the States. “To ensure that reform agenda of the government is implemented at a desired pace by all State governments, there is a need to develop a competitive spirit between the States,” says the note, adding that the committee set up to recommend strategies to double farmers income by 2022 had also suggested that States should be ranked based on their reform and governance record.
The concept note is open for public and stakeholder feedback until November 15, following which operation guidelines will be drafted by the end of the month. An online dashboard to track State performances will be developed by the year-end, and a national level workshop to roll out the Index will be held in January 2019, according to the concept note’s timelines.