Indian agriculture in the present times

Since independence India has made much progress in agriculture. Indian agriculture, which grew at the rate of about 1 percent per annum during the fifty years before Independence, has grown at the rate of about 2.6 percent per annum in the post-Independence era. Expansion of area was the main source of growth in the period of fifties and sixties after that the contribution of increased land area under agricultural production has declined over time and increase in productivity became the main source of growth in agricultural production. Another important facet of progress in agriculture is its success in eradicating of its dependence on imported food grains. Indian agriculture has progressed not only in output and yield terms but the structural changes have also contributed. All these developments in Indian agriculture are contributed by a series of steps initiated by Indian Government. Land reforms, inauguration of Agricultural Price Commission with objective to ensure remunerative prices to producers, new agricultural strategy , investment in research and extension services, provision of credit facilities, and improving rural infrastructure are some of these steps.

  • India’s production of food grains has been increasing every year, and India is among the top producers of several crops such as wheat, rice, pulses, sugarcane and cotton. It is the highest producer of milk and second highest producer of fruits and vegetables. In 2013, India contributed 25% to the world’s pulses production, the highest for any one country, 22% to the rice production and 13% to the wheat production.  It also accounted for about 25% of the total quantity of cotton produced, besides being the second-highest exporter of cotton for the past several years.
  • However, the agricultural yield (quantity of a crop produced per unit of land) is found to be lower in the case of most crops, as compared to other top producing countries such as China, Brazil and the United States.

Growth Trajectory in Indian Agriculture

  • Agricultural growth has been fairly volatile over the past decade, ranging from 5.8% in 2005-06 to 0.4% in 2009-10 and -0.2% in 2014-15. Such a variance in agricultural

growth has an impact on farm incomes as well as farmers’ ability to take credit for investing in their landholdings.

Growth trajectory

  • Contribution to GDP over the years:

Growth trajectory

Role of agriculture in Indian economy:

  • Share in National Income
  • Largest Employment Providing Sector.
  • Contribution to Capital formation.
  • Providing Raw Material to industries.
  • Market for Industrial Products.
  1. According to 2010-11 Agriculture Census, the total number of operational holdings was 138.35 million with average size of 1.15 hectares (ha). Of the total holdings, 85 per cent are in marginal and small farm categories of less than 2 ha (GOI, 2014).
  2. Farming for subsistence which makes scale of economy in question with majority of small holdings.
  3. Low-access of credit and prominent role of unorganized creditors affecting decisions of farmers in purchasing of inputs and selling of outputs
  4. Less use of technology, mechanization and poor productivity for which first two points are of major concern
  5. Very less value addition as compared to developed countries and negligible primary-level processing at farmer’s level.
  6. Poor infrastructure for farming making more dependence on weather, marketing and supply chain suitable for high value crops.

Importance in International Trade:

  • Share in national income.
  • Source of employment.
  • Provision of food grains.
  • Supply of raw materials to industrial sector.
  • Market for industrial product.
  • Earner of foreign exchange.

E-NAM:

National Agriculture Market (eNAM) is a Pan-India electronic trading portal which networks the existing APMC mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities.

National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA):

National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) has been formulated for enhancing agricultural productivity especially in rain fed areas focusing on integrated farming, water use efficiency, soil health management and synergizing resource conservation.

Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY):

Government of India is committed to accord high priority to water conservation and its management. To this effect Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) has been formulated with the vision of extending the coverage of irrigation ‘Har Khet ko pani’ and improving water use efficiency ‘More crop per drop’ in a focused manner.

Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY):

The Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), an initiative to promote organic farming in the country, was launched by the NDA government in 2015.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY):

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) is the government sponsored crop insurance scheme that integrates multiple stakeholders on a single platform.

Livestock insurance Scheme:

This scheme aims to provide protection mechanism to the farmers and cattle rearers against any eventual loss of their animals due to death and to demonstrate the benefit of the insurance of livestock to the people and popularize it with the ultimate goal of attaining qualitative improvement in livestock and their products.

Scheme on Fisheries Training and Extension:

It was launched to provide training for fishery sector so as to assist in undertaking fisheries extension programmes effectively.

National Scheme on Welfare of Fishermen:

This scheme was launched to provide financial assistance to fishers for construction of house, community hall for recreation and common working place. It also aims to install tube-wells for drinking water and assistance during lean period through saving cum relief component.

Micro Irrigation Fund (MIF):

The government approved a dedicated Rs5,000 crore fund to bring more land area under micro-irrigation as part of its objective to boost agriculture production and farmer’s income.

Future of Indian Agriculture:

  1. Future of agriculture is a very important question for the planners and all other stakeholders. Government and other organizations are trying to address the key challenges of agriculture in India, including small holdings of farmers, primary and secondary processing, supply chain, infrastructure supporting the efficient use of resources and marketing, reducing intermediaries in the market. There is a need for work on cost-effective technologies with environmental protection and on conserving our natural resources.
  2. There is a need for work on cost-effective technologies with environmental protection and on conserving our natural resources. Although its contribution in the gross domestic product (GDP) has reduced to less than 20 per cent and contribution of other sectors increased at a faster rate, agricultural production has grown. This has made us self-sufficient and taken us from being a begging bowl for food after independence to a net exporter of agriculture and allied products.
  3. Total food grain production in the country is estimated to be a record 291.95 million tones, according to the second advance estimates for 2019-20. This is news to be happy about but as per the estimates of Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), demand for food grain would increase to 345 million tones by 2030.
  4. India is blessed with large arable land with 15 agro-climatic zones as defined by ICAR, having almost all types of weather conditions, soil types and capable of growing a variety of crops. India is the top producer of milk, spices, pulses, tea, cashew and jute, and the second-largest producer of rice, wheat, oilseeds, fruits and vegetables, sugarcane and cotton.
  5. Many startups in agriculture by highly educated young ones show that they are able to understand the high potential of putting money and efforts in this sector. Cumulative effects of technology over the next decade will change the face of agriculture.
  6. Advantageous weather and soil conditions, high demand for food, untapped opportunities, various fiscal incentives given by the government for inputs, production infrastructure, availability of cheap credit facilities and for marketing and export promotion are attracting many individuals, big companies, startups and entrepreneurial ventures to do a lot of investments on innovations, inventions, research and development and on other aspects of business.
  7. The country’s population in the next decade is expected to become the largest in the world and providing food for them will be a very prime issue. Farmers are still not able to earn respectable earnings.

The National Commission on Farmers (NCF) was constituted on November 18, 2004 under the chairmanship of Professor M.S. Swaminathan.

  1. Farmers need to have assured access and control over basic resources, which include land, water, bio resources, credit and insurance, technology and knowledge management, and markets. The NCF recommends that “Agriculture” be inserted in the Concurrent List of the Constitution.
  2. Establish a National Land Use Advisory Service, which would have the capacity to link land use decisions with ecological meteorological and marketing factors on a location and season specific basis.
  3. Set up a mechanism to regulate the sale of agricultural land, based on quantum of land, nature of proposed use and category of buyer.
  4. Increase water supply through rainwater harvesting and recharge of the aquifer should become mandatory. “Million Wells Recharge” programme, specifically targeted at private wells should be launched.
  5. Expand the outreach of the formal credit system to reach the really poor and needy.
  6. Reduce rate of interest for crop loans to 4 per cent simple, with government support.
  7. Restructure microfinance policies to serve as Livelihood Finance, i.e. credit coupled with support services in the areas of technology, management and markets.
  8. Cover all crops by crop insurance with the village and not block as the unit for assessment to avoid farmers suicide.

Conclusion:

  • Change is happening in rural India but it has still a long way to go.
  • Agriculture has benefited from improved farming techniques but the growth is not equitable.
  • Land use is changing in rural areas as farmers are getting good value for their holdings. The effort should be to stop the migration to urban areas.
  • The number of essential commodities should be reduced to an absolute minimum, especially the non-food crops.