India is amongst the pioneers in agriculture. The barter trade between India and other countries for the exchange of agricultural goods have existed for centuries. It is one of the most important sectors in Indian economy. Almost half of the India’s workforce is engaged in agriculture occupation. It contributes to 17 percent of India’s GDP which is much higher than the world’s average.
History of Agriculture in India
After independence, lots of changes have been observed in the agricultural sector of India. Initially, Indian economy became dependent on agricultural production and exports. During the years of drought between 1965-1966, the government was keen to boost the yield per hectare of crop in order to raise agricultural production.
For the betterment of output, green revolution began to happen in the agricultural states of the country. Better irrigation facilities, high yielding varieties and the use of better fertilizers are the factors that boosted green revolution. Government started running different programmes in the states to establish scientific research. As a result, improvement was observed in the total wheat production during 1970.
After wheat, the productivity of rise also rose in the country. The revolution started spreading from the northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to the eastern states of Odisha, Bihar and West Bengal following the Indo-Gangetic plan. Around 1980’s, the government also started focusing on the production of oilseed, fruits and vegetables.
Agriculture in India experienced 3 to 4 percent growth gradually during 1960’s and 1970’s. It increased by 5 to 6 percent during the 1980’s. It even touched 6 to 7 percent growth during early 1990’s but declined rapidly by 1 to 2 percent in late 1990’s and post-2000. Currently, India is moving towards sustainability in agricultural economy simultaneously growing the non-agricultural sectors.
Challenges in Agriculture in India
India is mainly dependent on the monsoon rains for agriculture. Irrigation facilities require certain infrastructural development which is absent in most regions. Only about 35% of the agricultural land are provided with proper irrigation facility. Irrigation problems have been amongst the unsolved issues in this sector.
Farmers have to pray to the rain gods for mercy. To benefit the farmers, the government needs to focus on overall rural development by availing irrigation facilities through leveraging the rivers. When it comes to the economic perspective of Indian agriculture, it has experienced worse situations.
Many farmers have committed suicide in India due to agriculture failure. Farmers still have problems in accessing agricultural credit. Mainly, small farmers are unable to get it and go through serious debacle. Government and banks should come forward with better insurance schemes to provide independence and financial security for the farmers.
Here’s a list of major challenges in agriculture-
- Fragmentation of cultivable land
The agricultural lands are getting fragmented into small and scattered parts due to the increasing population throughout the nation. The problem of small and fragment land-holdings has resulted into the lower growth trajectory of the total agricultural output. In order to attain sustainable development, India needs to overcome the land fragmentation challenges.
- Soil erosion
Soil erosion is one of the most influential challenges in the path for sustainable growth of agriculture. Large amount of cultivable land suffers from soil erosion by water and the wind. It is essential to treat the soil with proper fertilisers and maintain the original fertility as it affects both the quality as well as the quantity of the agricultural goods.
- Lack of Irrigation
Irrigation is a necessary requirement for agriculture. Water facilities and sources in India isn’t equally distributed amongst the agricultural land, as a result, many agricultural regions are suffering through drought problems. Although, India is the second largest irrigated country due to the abundance of rivers, lakes and ponds as well as the favourable monsoon.
But these sources aren’t enough to satisfy the total irrigation requirement throughout the nation. In India, only one-third part of the total agricultural land receives proper irrigation. The government is taking essential measures to improve irrigation facilities.
- Lack of mechanisation
Most of the farmers in India are still engaged in the traditional methods of agriculture. The global technological upgradation has opened floodgates for technical development in agricultural methods. India is looking forward to implement new technologies to replace the traditional farming practises.
- Inadequate transport and storage facilities
In India, the transport facilities for agricultural goods isn’t satisfactory as per the total agricultural output potential. The rural infrastructure isn’t developed to its extent in order to facilitate a smooth transportation. It also goes through storage problems as in many cases, the crops are not handled carefully and the quality gets damaged in the storage before supply.
Moving ahead with opportunities
Modern forms of agriculture are focusing on technology adoption. Farm mechanization is happening globally and Indian farmers really need to understand its economic importance. The research community plays the vital role in guiding the farmers. Farmers precisely know the challenges that they face and it’s essential for the government authorities to help them.
Government is developing various agricultural policies for the farmers which involves the education of innovative farming techniques. The government is also focusing on providing incentives and concessions to the poor farmers in order to uplift the rural markets.
In the upcoming years, the development in rural infrastructure being carried out by the government will help the agricultural sector to gain more benefits in Indian economy. Providing better access to credit for the farmers, guiding them with new technologies, fertilizers and pesticides, etc. can provide better growth to the farming occupation and the nation’s economy as well.