Agriculture in India today and challenges faced

Agriculture and situation in India

Agriculture in India extends back to the Indus Valley civilization era, and in some parts of southern India, even earlier. Agriculture is one of the most important industries in India’s economy, which means it employs a large number of people. Approximately 60% of the Indian population works in the industry, which accounts for about 18% of the country’s GDP. With growth in other sections of the country’s economy, this share gradually declines each year.

In India’s agricultural sector, crops accounted for around 56 percent of gross value added in fiscal year 2019. The decrease in this value can be linked to lower agricultural prices, with the majority falling below the minimum support prices, as well as increased urbanisation and the expansion of the country’s services and industrial industries. From fiscal year 2018 to 2019, the growth rate of GVA in the agriculture sector, which includes forestry and fishing, grew modestly.

Cereal production is one of the agriculture sector’s most important contributions to India. Cereals make up about half of the Indian agricultural market. In fiscal year 2020, the yearly yield of coarse cereals was around 1,976 kg per hectare. The annual production of cereals has been steadily increasing across the country. After the United States, the country has the second largest arable land area in the world. In fiscal year 2016, India’s total cultivated land area was over 1.5 million hectares. According to the World Bank, around 38 percent of India’s land area is suitable for agricultural as of 2015. As a result of urbanisation, its value is steadily falling.

Organic farming in the country has a lot of potential. It began as a series of small-scale trials on farms with less than one acre of land. The total area of organic land is around 5.71 million hectares. This approach is mostly used to develop sugar crops. Indians’ two main food staples are rice and wheat. India is the world’s second-largest producer of both rice and wheat. Even while farming accounts for the majority of agriculture in India, livestock and fisheries also play an important role in feeding the country’s population and economy.

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Condition of agriculture in India

Agriculture is one of the country’s significant economic challenges, as it is the industry that provides a living for approximately 54 percent of Indians. Even today, this sector is underdeveloped and plagued by numerous issues, resulting in low agricultural output.

Although agricultural occupies 43 percent of India’s land, it only accounts for 18 percent of the country’s GDP. For Indians, the country’s dismal agricultural situation is a source of concern. Rural farmers in India are poor, and the most of them are illiterate, thus there are few good extension services available.

Another big issue confronting Indian farmers is their reliance on nature and the state of their irrigation systems. Current agricultural practises are neither economically nor environmentally sustainable, and India’s agricultural yields are low for numerous commodities.

Irrigation systems that aren’t well maintained and an almost universal lack of good extension services are among the causes. Poor roads from the village to the market, basic market infrastructure, and excessive regulation are just a few of the additional concerns for India’s agriculture sector.

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The following causes are responsible for India’s low productivity

India’s substantial agricultural subsidies are hindering productivity-enhancing investment, according to the World Bank’s “India: Priorities for Agriculture and Rural Development.” Agriculture’s overregulation has raised costs, increased pricing risks, and increased unpredictability. In labour, land, and finance markets, the government intervenes. Infrastructure and services in India are lacking. Water distribution is also inefficient, unsustainable, and inequitable, according to the World Bank. The irrigation system is in bad shape.

Illiteracy, overall socioeconomic backwardness, slow implementation of land reforms, and insufficient or inefficient finance and marketing services for farm produce are also factors.

Due to fragmentation, land ceiling statutes, and family disputes, land holdings are quite small (less than 20,000 m2). Small holdings are frequently overstaffed, resulting in hidden unemployment and low labour productivity.

Farmers’ ignorance and lack of knowledge of current agricultural technologies and practices, which is limited by high expenses and impracticality in the case of small landowners.

Inadequate irrigation facilities and farmers’ reliance on the monsoon season, where a strong monsoon results in rapid growth and a bad monsoon results in slow growth for the entire economy. NABARD, the statutory top agent for rural development in the subcontinent, regulates farm finance.

The Ministry of Agriculture is also attempting to enhance farmer conditions by implementing several initiatives such as the Insurance Plan and the ITC Limited Plan. Under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Agriculture Insurance Company of India insures farmers farming wheat, fruit, rice, and rubber in the event of natural calamities or catastrophic crop failure.

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The Challenges of Indian Agriculture

Instability: India’s agriculture is heavily reliant on the monsoon. As a result, food grain production varies from year to year. A year of abundant crop production is frequently followed by a year of severe scarcity.

Cropping Pattern: There are two types of crops farmed in India: food crops and non-food crops. Food grains, sugarcane, and other beverages are included in the former, whereas fibres and oilseeds are included in the latter.

Land Ownership: Although agricultural land ownership in India is reasonably evenly dispersed, there is some concentration of land ownership. The fact that land ownership in India changes frequently contributes to inequity in land distribution. It is said that significant tracts of land in India are owned by a tiny group of wealthy farmers, landlords, and moneylenders, whereas the great majority of farmers possess very little land, if any at all.

Sub-division and Holding Fragmentation: Due to population expansion and the breakdown of the joint family system, agricultural land has been continuously subdivided into smaller and smaller portions. To satisfy their debts, small farmers are sometimes obliged to sell a section of their land. Land is further subdivided as a result of this.

Land Tenure: India’s land tenure system is also far from ideal. The majority of renters in the pre-independence period experienced tenancy insecurity. They could be kicked out at any moment. However, following Independence, many initiatives were made to ensure tenancy security.

Agricultural Laborer Conditions: The majority of agricultural labourers in India have poor working conditions. There’s also the issue of surplus labour, commonly known as “hidden unemployment.” As a result, wage rates are pushed below the subsistence level.

Manures, fertilisers, and biocides: For thousands of years, Indian soils have been utilised to cultivate crops with little regard for replenishment. As a result, soils have been depleted and exhausted, resulting in low productivity. Almost all of the crops have among the lowest average yields in the world. This is a severe issue that can be addressed by increasing the use of manures and fertilisers.

Irrigation: Despite the fact that India is the world’s second-largest irrigated country after China, barely one-third of the planted area is irrigated. In a tropical monsoon country like India, where rainfall is unpredictable, inconsistent, and erratic, irrigation is the most critical agricultural input. India will not be able to make sustained progress in agriculture unless and until more than half of the planted area is irrigated.

Lack of mechanisation: Despite large-scale mechanisation of agriculture in some regions of the country, most agricultural operations are still carried out by hand throughout the majority of the country, utilising simple and traditional tools and implements such as the wooden plough and sickle. Ploughing, seeding, irrigating, thinning and pruning, weeding, harvesting threshing, and transporting the crops all make little or no use of equipment.

Agricultural Marketing: In rural India, agricultural marketing is still in horrible shape. Farmers must rely on local traders and middlemen for the disposal of their farm produce, which is sold at a low price due to a lack of adequate marketing facilities.

Inadequate transportation: One of India’s major challenges is the lack of affordable and efficient transportation. There are still lakhs of villages that are not properly connected to main roads or market centres nowadays.

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Solution to Agriculture problems

1. Crops of different sizes

Farmers are recommended to produce a variety of crops, such as Apple, Pineapple, Papaya, Banana, Coconut, Ginger, Turmeric, and others, in order to increase productivity and profit.

2.Agriculture App Modernization

This sector will burgeon if we encourage young people to pursue farming and associated careers. They already have a foundation of institutional knowledge and education, and they can swiftly learn and improve. Almost all of them, for example, have smartphones and can work effectively in farms by using a sophisticated agriculture software.

Furthermore, offering current technology and passing on advanced equipment to small farmers will aid in increasing efficiency, output, and quality.

3.Farmers must be educated

Crop rotation is something that many farmers are ignorant of. Although education in urban areas has improved significantly, the government has disregarded the need for similar improvements in rural areas, notably in the agricultural sector. This is why farmers are uninformed of a number of government-sponsored programmes and their benefits.

4. The Crop Insurance Requirement

Crop insurance is required, but claims must be settled quickly and easily. There is a demand for transparent index-based insurance that treats policyholders fairly within a specific geographic area. The operating and transnational expenses of an index-based insurance system are minimal, and payouts are faster.

5. Improving Water Management

Water resources can be fully utilised through interstate water management coordination, and water can be distributed quickly to the places where it is most needed. Connecting rivers and building national waterways/channels will alleviate water shortages and improve irrigation facilities, assisting farmers in the event of a monsoon failure.

6. Agritouism Concept

Agritourism operations can provide the essential extra income to keep small and mid-scale farms, ranches, and rural communities afloat. It might be marketed as a place where locals and tourists can get up close and personal with agricultural and natural resources. Increased public involvement with local farms and ranches can help people better understand and appreciate the working landscapes that assist to preserve and enhance natural resources.

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