The agriculture sector in India is considered to be the backbone of its economy. Agriculture is a source of livelihood for more than 70% of Indians in rural areas. It contributes around 18% of the total Gross Domestic Product of India (Department of Agriculture & Cooperation & Statistics, 2014). Similarly, the agriculture sector in India is also the largest employer contributing 49% of the total workforce. Apart from employment, agriculture also plays an important role in food security. According to (NSSO, 2013) an average Indian still spends more than half of the income on food security. However, the growth rate of the agriculture sector in India has been fluctuating. The growth rate of agriculture in India mainly depends on rainfall as the majority of the cultivated area in India depends on rainfall (Dev, 2013).
As shown in the above figure the initial period after the independence the agriculture sector was facing a negative growth rate. However, after 1958 the growth rate has been positive except in 2002 -03 when the Indian agriculture sector was affected by severe drought. With the introduction of the green revolution, the agriculture sector experienced an impressive growth rate from late 1960 to early 1970.
Even though the growth rate of agriculture has been fluctuating, the contribution of this sector in total Gross Domestic Product in India has been continuously falling. Despite the fact that the majority of the workforce is employed has been quite low. As shown in the figure above at the time of Independence agriculture contributed almost half of the total GDP which has declined to 18% in recent years which was more than 45% in 1954-55 (Arjun, 2013).
India has seen tremendous growth in rice production
Rice is one of the major food crops grown in India and is produced in the Kharif season (or summer season). Rice is also produced in the Rabi season; however, the share of rice production in this season is low. Rice is considered a diverse crop that can be grown in diverse climates and soil conditions. Total rice production in India has increased by 430% from 1950 to 2014. The total production of rice was around 20 million tons in 1950 which has increased to around 106 million tons in 2013 – 14.
The yield of rice has been continuously rising. During 1950 only 668 kg of rice was produced in one hectare of land which has increased to 2424 kg in one hector in 2014. The significant increase in the yield is due to the availability of the latest technology, developed seeds, improvement in irrigation facilities, and new methods of production (Department of Agriculture & Cooperation & Statistics, 2014).
The growth rate of rice production has been very fluctuating. During 1983-84 the growth rate was as high as 27% whereas in 2002- 03 the growth rate was as low as (–) 23%. The growth rate of rice production in India is majorly dependent on the monsoon as the majority of the cultivated land is dependent on rainfall. The severe drought of 2002-03 leads to a significant decline in the entire agriculture sector. Similarly, during 1965 – 66 the growth rate of rice production declined significantly. One of the reasons for the decline is the introduction of the green revolution which led to a shift in the production of wheat instead of rice.
High yield of wheat in India boosts the agriculture sector
India is the second-largest producer of wheat with a total production of 88.94 million tons in 2014-15. Wheat is considered to be the staple food for the majority of Indian states. The total production of wheat in India has been continuously increasing post-independence. However, the rapid increase in production was after 1965 which was the first phase of the green revolution. With the much-developed seeds, new methods for production, new equipment, and technologies, the total wheat production increased from 11 million tons in 1966-67 to 17 million tons in 1967-68 (Department of Agriculture & Cooperation & Statistics, 2014).
The green revolution has had a significant impact on the yield curve. In 1966-67 only 887 kg of wheat was produced in one hector, which shows significant improvement after the green revolution. In 1967-68 in one hector 1103 kilograms of wheat were produced. Since then per hectare production has been continuously increasing which shows that wheat production has been continuously rising.
Similar to rice the growth rate of wheat production has been fluctuating. The growth of agriculture production in India (including wheat) largely depends on the monsoon. The highest growth rate was achieved in 1967-68 when the growth rate of wheat production was 45%. However, after 1970 the average growth rate was less than 10% from 1980 to 2014 with a growth rate of below 5% (Ministry of Agriculture, 2015; Sebby, 2011).
The yield of Jowar has increased with decreased production
Jowar is considered to be the staple diet, especially for low-income families in India. Apart from that Jowar can be used to feed the animals and used as raw materials in various industries.
As shown in the figure above, the total production of Jowar increased in the initial period of post-independent India however even though there were fluctuations. However, since the beginning of the 21st century, the total agricultural yield of Jowar has been continuously declining. During 2013-14 the total production of Jowar was 5.39 million tons which were lower than the total production in 1950-51 when the total production was 5.50 million tons. The main reason behind the decline in Jowar production was due to the decline in the Jowar cultivated land. Similarly, the shift in production from the traditional product to modern commercial crops has also led to the decline in the total production of Jowar.
Even though the total area under cultivation is declining sharply for Jowar production, yield per hectare has been increasing with some fluctuation. The total cultivated area for Jowar declined from 15.57 million hectares in 1950-51 to 5.82 million hectares in 2013-14. The total production has also declined from 5.50 million tons to 5.39 million tons in the same period.
The relatively low percentage decline in the total production as compared to the total area cultivated is due to the fact that the yield per hector increased more than the decline in the area cultivated. In 1950 only 351 kilograms of Jowar were produced in one hector. Over the year productivity has increased to 926 kilograms of Jowar per hector. The significant increase in the yield is due to the availability of modern developed seeds and new methods of production.
Similar to other major crops the growth rate of Jowar also shows fluctuations. The growth rate was highest during 1992-93. One of the major reasons behind the increase in production was the good monsoon season and support of the government to increase in the production of agriculture in India (Ministry of Agriculture, 2015; Zalkuwi, Singh, Bhattarai, Singh, & B.Dayakar, 2014).
Major problems faced by the agriculture sector in India
While agriculture is the source of livelihood and the largest employer, it is also the major supplier for the non-agriculture sector. The introduction of the green revolution and the availability of technology has helped to increase the total production of major crops in India. However, the lack of irrigation facilities and inefficient government policies has led to distress in the sector. The process of structural transformation has also been quite slow.
Still, the majority of the cultivated area is dependent on the yearly rainfall. There has been an increasing case of crop failure and farmer suicide in recent years. Similarly, the lack of effective policy for the minimum support price has also emerged as one of the major problems. Also, the majority of the rural population who are dependent on agriculture have small landholdings where the marginal productivity of each member is close to zero. The major challenges faced by the agriculture sector in India include the lack of credit, soil erosion, lack of agriculture marketing, inadequate storage facility, and lack of proper mechanism (Dwivedy, 2011; Ministry of Agriculture, 2015).
There should be strong policies to boost the productivity of the agricultural sector. Similarly, the welfare of the small and marginalized farmers should also be taken into consideration. In recent times the introduction of crop insurance (Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana) seems to be a good initiation. However, the effectiveness of the scheme can only be analyzed after its implementation.
- Arjun, K. M. (2013). Indian Agriculture- Status, Importance and Role in Indian Economy. International Journal of Agriculture and Food Science Technology, 4(4), 343–346.
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- Dev, S. M. (2013). Small Farmers in India: Challenges and Opportunities. Mumbai.
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- Sebby, K. (2011). The Green Revolution of the 1960’s and Its Impact on Small Farmers in India. University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Nebraska.
- Zalkuwi, J., Singh, R., Bhattarai, M., Singh, O. ., & B.Dayakar. (2014). PROFITABILITY ANALYSIS OF SORGHUM PRODUCTION IN INDIA. International Journal of Commerce, Business and Management, 3(5), 707–714.