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The Big Picture – Indian agricultural scenario: What has been the problem?

Summary:

Indian agriculture has been a paradox for sometimes.

While production is growing up and also exports are growing, there is also growing distrust among the farmers.

Farmers are affected by varying weather conditions, droughts and floods. Soil fertility is another issue.

Policies regarding agriculture and investments in it have also been a constant source of concern.

With huge pressure from various sources to shift to GM crops, it has also remained as an unresolved issue.

Agriculture accounts for 54.6% of total employment.

Agriculture production has consistently been rising. From 51 million tons in 1951 it has today reached 271 million tons. India has also been an exporting country.

Agricultural production in India is diverse.

60% of India’s agriculture is yet rain fed where production is historically stuck up at 1.1 ton/hectare, against average of 4 tons in the irrigated areas. This also provides hope as the production in such areas can be improved by developing water resources for irrigation.

Number of cultivators has gone up and this is increasing burden on the agricultural land.

80% of the land holdings now are marginal and small holdings which are economically not viable.

The rise in production has benefitted the consumers but not the farmers.

We have to adapt to the changes in the technology and the processes to increase the productivity.

The full potential is not yet completely realised.

Agriculture in India is not seen as a profitable occupation.

Pubic investment in Agriculture has never been more than 0.3% of the GDP. Huge investments in agriculture particularly in irrigation are required to tap the yield gap.

Overhauling of marketing system is also necessary.

During the global slowdown and recession, agriculture had 4% growth rate and has sustained the economy.

The farmers in western countries are heavily subsidised. Hence it is difficult for Indian farmers to compete with them.