Agriculture and Panchayat
considered to be the backbone of the Indian Economy. It has played a key
role in guaranteeing food and nutritional security, sustainable
development and alleviation of poverty. An estimate by Central
Statistics Office declares that the total share of agriculture and
allied sectors (including agriculture, livestock and forestry and
fishery) in terms of Gross Domestic Product was 13.9% during 2013-14 at
2004-05 prices. Government of India in its budget of 2016-17 has planned
several programmes for sustainable development of agriculture.
Programmes like ‘Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’ is one such
prominent initiative. Other programmes and actions include improved
access to irrigation through ‘Pradhan Mantri Gram Sinchai Yojana’,
enhanced water efficiency through ‘Per Drop More Crop’, continued
support to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
(MGNREGA) and the creation of a unified national agriculture market to
boost the income of farmers. The country ranks second for agricultural
land area (157.35 million hectares) in the world and is the largest
producer of spices, pulses, milk, tea, cashew and jute. It is also the
second largest producer of wheat, rice, fruits, vegetables, sugarcane,
cotton and oilseeds1.
Despite these achievements, the agriculture sector
has been confronted with several challenges especially challenges faced
by small and marginal farmers such as lack of irrigation facilities,
degradation of natural resources and low levels of awareness among the
farmers about improved agriculture practices and use of appropriate
technology. It requires urgent and active involvement of local
stakeholders in decision making processes at the village level so as to
apply their wisdom and indigenous knowledge in developing
village-agriculture plans through a decentralised planning process which
is in tune with the local needs and aspirations. To strengthen this
concept, the government has taken new policy initiatives. Gram Panchayat
Development Plan (GPDP) is one such effort which reinforces people and
stakeholders’ participation in the local planning processes.
Role of Panchayat in Agriculture Planning
After the 73rd
constitutional amendments, the Panchayti Raj Institution (PRI) is the
major driver in the development of rural areas. It acts as a single
window for implementation of all developmental schemes. PRI is the main
planning and executive agency for all kinds of development projects at
the Gram Panchayat level.
To prepare a good quality plan, quality of
participation needs to be expanded and conscious efforts have to be made
to ensure that every section of society participates in the Gram
Sabha with active contributions on discussions towards identifying
and prioritising development issues and suggesting optimum solutions.
For this exercise, Gram Panchayats should take
the services of subject matter specialists so that the Panchayat
can make better participatory micro-plans. Simultaneously, it can play a
better role in preparing Panchayat level agriculture plans
aligned with district vision and district agriculture plans.
The following steps can be taken to develop a
decentralised Panchayat level agriculture plan:
• Formation of planning
team and its capacity building
The first step involves
consultation with the local community for the formation of a planning
team to be constituted by the Gram Panchayat. Youth, women,
government officials, PRI members should be the participants of this
group. After the formation of the planning team, intensive capacity
building exercises should be organised on the different aspects of
decentralised planning such as vision building, data collection etc.
• Development of vision
In this step, the urgent
needs and long term development requirements of the village should be
discussed keeping in view a certain time frame with due consultation of
community and concerned line departments/stakeholders. This vision
document must be discussed with Technical Support Institutions (TSI),
Block Agriculture Planning Unit (BAPU) and District Agriculture Planning
Unit (DAPU) for qualitative inputs if required, so that Panchayat
level vision statement can be aligned with block and district level
vision to fulfil the state level vision.
• Data collection,
analysis and identification of sectors
After the development of
vision statement, the process of data collection starts which includes
socio-economic status of households, literacy rate, caste group, land
use pattern, source irrigation, major crops and its average yields and
traditional agricultural practices. This practice of data
collection should be done by a trained team of planning members. Data
analysis by the team members should be the next step. During the process
of data collection and its analysis, Panchayat should take the
services of experts so as to improve the quality of data and its
analysis. After the analysis of data, findings should be shared with the
community members so that collective developmental strategies can be
• Developing options for
data analysis, following areas of intervention should be identified:
water conservation activities to control soil erosion.
of water harvesting.
Maximisation of irrigation use efficiency by increasing use of micro
of integrated crop management practices.
of quality seeds.
Promotion of allied
sectors such as dairy, poultry etc.
This will be developed by
the planning team with due consultation of the community, experts, block
and district administration. The Panchayat should also take the
services of experts from research institutions, subject matter
specialists etc. As a result, a design for sector wise development will
come out vetted by the experts of different sectors. After the
finalisation of the thematic sector, broader level discussions should be
done for more suggestions and clarity of the strategies.
• Identification of
resources and matching with needs
The next step is resource
identification. Resources can be identified from different central and
state sponsored schemes, tide and untied funds, MP/MLA funds, locally
available natural resources, special purpose grants etc. After resource
identification, the planning team should sit together and match the
needs with the identified resources. In the process of resource mapping
and matching exercise, the Panchayat should take the help of
block, district administration and Technical Support Institutions.
• Approval of plans by
the Gram Sabha:
After the preparation of
the village agriculture plan, this should be discussed in the Gram
Sabha for approval. If any changes are suggested by the Gram
Sabha, the Panchayat should modify the plan as per
suggestions and resubmit it to the Gram Sabha for approval.
• Integration of the
Panchayat plan with the Block and District level plan
After the approval by the
Gram Sabha, the plan should be submitted to the block for
technical validation, compilation and aggregation at the block level.
After the compilation of the Panchayat plan at the block level,
the same should be forwarded to the district for compilation and
aggregation in the district plan. The idea is that the Gram
Panchayat plan will be consolidated at the block level. The plan
prepared by all the blocks will be consolidated at the district level
and the plan of the different districts will be consolidated at the
• Submission to the
Zila Panchayat for approval
After the compilation and
preparation of district level plan, this should be presented to the
District Planning Committee (DPC) for approval. If DPC suggests any
changes, the district plan will be resubmitted in the DPC after
incorporating the suggested changes by the committee.
Once the plan is approved
and taken for implementation, it is essential to closely monitor the
progress. For this purpose, the Gram Panchayat should constitute
the monitoring committee to monitor the work and present physical and
financial progress at the Panchayat level. The same should be
presented in the Gram Sabha meeting time to time so that in the
case of delay in the work by a concerned agency, necessary action can be
taken by the Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat.
• Social Audit
The social audit should
be organised by the Gram Panchayat at regular intervals so as to
provide an opportunity to the Gram Sabha to assess the quality of
work done and inspect the records. Before organising the social audit,
wider publicity of the same should be done by the team members to inform
the local people which can help towards ensuring increased participation
of all sections of the society.
From the above discussion, we can conclude that
agriculture planning at grass root level is the need of the hour. It
should be done in a decentralised fashion with due participation of
different stakeholders including government functionaries, line
department officials, subject experts, Gram Panchayat members,
women, farmers etc. ■
Chandan Kumar Mishra
1 India Brand Equity Foundation (www.ibef.org)
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