Overview of the agriculture sector in India since independence

Agriculture sector in India is considered to be the backbone of its economy. Agriculture is source of livelihood for more than 70% of Indians in the rural areas. It contributes around 18% to the total Gross Domestic Product of India (Department of Agriculture & Cooperation & Statistics, 2014). Similarly 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 in food security. However the growth rate of the agriculture sector in India has been fluctuating. The growth rate of the agriculture in  India mainly depends on the rainfall as majority of the cultivated area in India depends on rainfall (Dev, 2013).

Growth rate of agriculture sector in India (1950 – 2013).

Growth rate of agriculture sector in India (1950 – 2013).

As shown in the above figure the initial period after the independence the agriculture sector was facing 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 green revolution the agriculture sector experienced impressive growth rate during late 1960s’ to early 1970s’.

Contribution of agriculture sector to total GDP of India (1954- 2012)

Contribution of agriculture sector to total GDP of India (1954- 2012).

Even though the growth rate of the agriculture has been fluctuating, the contribution of this sector in total Gross Domestic Product in India has been continuously falling. Despite the fact that majority of work force are 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 the 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 as a diverse crop which can be grown in diverse climate and soil condition. Total rice production in India has increased 430% from 1950 – 2014. The total production of rice was around 20 million tons in 1950 which has increased to around 106 million tons in 2013 – 14.

Total production of rice in India (1950-2014)

Total production of rice in India (1950-2014).

The yield of rice has been continuously rising. During 1950 only 668 kg of rice was produced in one hectar 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 latest technology, developed seeds, improvement in irrigation facility and new methods of production (Department of Agriculture & Cooperation & Statistics, 2014).

Yield of rice production in India (1950-2014)

Yield of rice production in India (1950-2014).

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 majorly dependent on the monsoon as majority of the cultivated land is dependent on rainfall. The severe drought of 2002-03 lead to significant decline in the entire agriculture sector. Similarly during 1965 – 66 the growth rate of rice production declined significantly. One of the reason for decline is the introduction of green revolution which led to shift in the production of wheat instead of rice.

Growth rate of rice production in India (1950-2014)

Growth rate of rice production in India (1950-2014).

High yield of wheat in India boosts the agriculture sector

Total wheat production in India (1950-2014).

Total wheat production in India (1950-2014).

India is the second largest producer of wheat with total production of 88.94 million tons in 2014-15. Wheat is considered to be the staple food for the majority of Indian states. Total production of wheat in India has been continuously increasing post-independence. However the rapid increase in the production was after 1965 which was the first phase of green revolution. With the much developed seeds, new method 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).

Yield of Wheat in India (1950-2014)

Yield of Wheat in India (1950-2014).

Green revolution has significant impact in 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 kilogram of wheat was produced. Since then per hectar production has been continuously increasing which shows that wheat production has been continuously rising.

Growth rate of wheat production in India (1950- 2014)

Growth rate of wheat production in India (1950- 2014).

Similar to rice the growth rate of the wheat production has been fluctuating. The growth of the agriculture production in India (including wheat) largely depend on 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 growth rate of below 5% (Ministry of Agriculutre, 2015; Sebby, 2011).

Yield of Jowar has increased with decreased production

Jowar is considered to be the staple diet especially for the low income families in India. Apart from that jowar can be used to feed the animals and used as raw materials in various industries.

Total production of Jowar in India (1950-2014)

Total production of Jowar in India (1950-2014).

As shown in the figure above, 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 was lower than the total production in 1950-51 when the total production was 5.50 million tons. Main reasons behind the decline in jowar production was due to the decline in the jowar cultivated land. Similarly the shift in the production from the traditional product to the modern commercial crops has also led to the decline in the total production of jowar.

Yield of jowar in India (1950-2014)

Yield of jowar in India (1950-2014)

Even though the total area under cultivation is declining sharply for jowar production, yield per hectar has been increasing with some fluctuation. The total cultivated area for jowar declined from 15.57 million hectors in 1950-51 to 5.82 million hectors in 2013-14. The total production has also declined from 5.50 million tons to 5.39 million tons in the same period.

Total area under Jowar cultivation in India (1950-2014)

Total area under Jowar cultivation in India (1950-2014).

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 was 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 method of production.

Growth rate of jowar production in India ( 1950-2014)

Growth rate of jowar production in India ( 1950-2014).

Similar to other major crops the growth rate of jowar also shows fluctuations. Growth rate was highest during 1992-93. One of the major reason behind the increase in production was the good monsoon season and support of government to increase in the production of agriculture in India (Ministry of Agriculutre, 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 also the major supplier for the non-agriculture sector. Introduction of green revolution and availability of technology has helped to increase  total production of major crops in India. However lack of irrigation facility and inefficient government policies has led to distress in the sector. The process of structural transformation has also been quite slow.

Still majority of the cultivated area is dependent on the yearly rainfall. There has been increasing case of crop failure and farmer suicide in the recent years. Similarly the lack of effective policy for the minimum support price has also emerged as one of the major problem. Also majority of the rural population who are dependent on agriculture have small land holdings 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 Agriculutre, 2015).

There should be strong policies to boost the productivity of the agricultural sector. Similarly the  the welfare of the small and marginalised farmers  should also be taken into consideration. In the recent time 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.

References

  • 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.
  • Data.gov.in. (2016). Agriculture Production Stock Yield. Retrieved August 1, 2016, from https://data.gov.in/catalog/agriculture-production-stock-yield
  • Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, & Statistics, D. of E. &. (2014). AGRICULTURAL STATISTICS AT A GLANCE 2014. New Delhi.
  • Dev, S. M. (2013). Small Farmers in India: Challenges and Opportunities. Mumbai.
  • Dwivedy, N. (2011). Challenges faced by the Agriculture Sector in Developing Countries with special reference to India. International Journal of Rural Studies, 18, 1–6.
  • Ministry of Agriculutre. (2015). AGRICULTURAL SITUATION IN INDIA. New Delhi.
  • NSSO. (2013). National Sample Survey Office. new Dellhi.
  • Planning Commission. (2015). Data Bank on Agriculture and Allied Sectors. Retrieved January 8, 2016, from http://planningcommission.gov.in/sectors/agri_html/DataBank.html
  • Ryan, J. G., & Asokan, M. (1977). Effect of Green Revolution in wheat on production of pulses and nutrients in India. Indlan Journal of Agricultural Economics, 32(3), 8–15.
  • 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.
Indra Giri

Indra Giri

Senior Analyst at Project Guru
He completed his Masters in Development Economics from South Asian University, New Delhi. His areas of interest includes various socio development issues like poverty, inequality and unemployment in South Asia. Apart from writing for Project Guru he loves to travel and play football in his spare time.
Indra Giri

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