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National Issue: State of Indian Agriculture

Apr 19, 2017 13:15 IST

    Status of Indian Agriculture

    India is primarily an agriculture-based economy and its largest population are dependent on the agricultural activity. The agricultural sector in India is a means of living and earning for more than half of the total workforce while it contributes only 17.5% to the GDP (at current prices in 2015-16) of the country.

    Despite various schemes and intensive plans of the Government, the state of agriculture in Indian has remained same. There is hardly a significant change can be found in the agriculture sector in India after independence. During the 1960s, Green Revolution was an intensive plan to increase crop yields, but its reach was limited to only some of the crops and states of the country. Here, in this article, we will analyse the state of

    Insights into Indian Agriculture

    State of Agriculture of India

    • Agricultural productivity in India depends on the series of factors such as the quality and availability of major agricultural inputs like land, water, seeds and fertilisers, sufficient access to agricultural credit and crop insurance, assurance of remunerative prices for agricultural produce and storage and marketing infrastructure, among others.
    • The agriculture in India employs more than half of the total workforce (around 53%) of the country which is 243 million persons in the absolute term during 2009-10.
    • The total population of 243 million persons dependent on agriculture for its livelihood comprises of landowners, tenant farmers who cultivate a piece of land, and agricultural labourers who are employed on these farms.
    • Over the last one decade, the agricultural output has been impulsive with the annual growth ranging from 8.6% in 2010-11, to -0.2% in 2014-15 and 0.8% in 2015-16 which can be seen in the graph given below.

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    Indian Agriculture Production

    • The contribution of agriculture sector to the GDP of the country was 54% in 1950-51 which is decreased to 15.4% in 2015-16 and the contribution of agriculture sector has decreased while at the same time the contribution of sectors such as manufacturing and services sector has increased over the years (see the graph below).

    Contribution of Agriculture in Indian Economy

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    Agricultural production and yield

    • In 1950-51, the total food grain production was 51 million tonnes, which is now 252 million tonnes in 2015-16 while as per the second advance estimate by the Ministry of Agriculture it is expected to register 272 million tonnes of production in 2016-17.

    Agriculture Production in India

    • The Green Revolution of the 1960s has highly benefitted the production of wheat and rice, which is now accounted for 78% of the total food grain production in the country.
      The consumption demand of food grains is expected to be 300 million tonnes by 2025 which implies that the crop output needs to grow at an annual average of 2% by keeping in the view of recent growth.
    • Despite a high-level of agricultural production in India, which has increased by more than four times since 1950-51 but in terms of yield it is far behind the large producing countries like China, Brazil and the USA (see the graph).

    Cross country data on Agriculture yield

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    • As per the recent stat, India is the second highest producer of paddy (rice) in the world, but its yield of rice is lower than China, Brazil and the USA and same in the case of pulses production.
    • As compared to other larger rice producing countries, India’s rate of increasing productivity is very slow which has increased from 2.0 to 3.6 while Brazil’s yield of rice increased from 1.3 tonnes/ha in 1981 to 4.9 tonne/ha in 2011 and China’s productivity in rice also grew from 4.3 to 6.7 in the same period.

    Food security and nutrition

    • Agriculture in India is proving livelihood for the farmers and marginal labourers at a larger extent and it also addresses the motives of the food security for the nation.
    • As defined by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) that food security as a situation where all the people have, at all times, physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets the dietary needs and food preferences for a healthy and active life.
    • As per 2014 estimates that 15% of the total population of the country continues to be under-nourished despite having a large volume of food grains production in the country.
    • In India, the Food Security Act was passed in 2013 which has the aim of providing food and nutritional security to people by ensuring access to an adequate amount of quality food at affordable prices:
    • Under the Act persons belonging to certain categories are to be provided with food grains (wheat, rice and coarse cereals) at subsidised prices.
    • As of 2015, 68% of the population, i.e. 81 crore persons (of which 77% are in rural areas and 23% in urban areas) are covered under the Act.

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    The agriculture sector in India has great potential to grow and contribute satisfactorily to the GDP of the country. As compared to other large food grain producing countries, India is ahead in overall food grain production, but the major hurdle with India’s agriculture sector is the lower yield of food grain production. Again, India needs a state-sponsored intensive movement like Green Revolution, which should have the coverage of a number of crops and large cultivable areas of the country so that the yield productivity of major potential crops can be improved.

    The Government should also make strong policies or make ill-proof the existing policies which can assist farmers while dealing with the situations of a cash crunch and other natural calamities like drought, flood and uneven monsoon.

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