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Agriculture in India

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AGRICULTURE IN INDIA
Indian agriculture has been main source of income for the masses since decades. It is also referred to as India’s mother economy. In the current times as well it accounts for about two-thirds of the employment of the Indian labor force. An intense global food situation in present times signifies the importance of expanding the existent resources and food production in developing countries like India. The Five Year Plans by the Government of India are meant to achieve this goal.
The northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh contribute over 80% of the production of food grains. “Among the southern states, Tamil Nadu shows the highest percentage of irrigated area and intensity of irrigation but not intensity of cropping.” (2) Growth of plantation crops such as coffee, cocoa, pepper and cardamom are dominated by the states of Kerala and hilly Karnataka.
Indian agriculture has developed over the period of years, particularly after Independence in 1947. The stagnating growth which characterized the first of the twentieth century was significantly in contrast with the second half. However, it has been a slow and painful process. This does not come as a surprise since most of the developing countries experiencing transition in economy have encountered the same. They are striving to achieve multiple objectives at a time with limited resources at their disposal. While efficient use of available resources is of utmost importance, getting most advantageous returns from investment in these resources are what determine the course of progress.
Several factors contribute to the growth of agriculture in any economy. These factors comprise of physical, human, economic, and technological factors. Physical factors can be attributed to soil type and climate. Human factors include knowledge, density of population, and composition of labor force. Technological factors are judged by tools and machinery. Economic factor in a way contributes to all of the above as well as others like transport, storage, subsidies and taxes.
Rural development cannot be overlooked in a developing economy like India because majority of the population still resides in these parts of the country. The development is clearly not possible by ignoring the rural areas because of the presence of high prevalence of unemployment and poverty. Stress on rural development is an absolute necessity for economic growth. This is evident from the Sixth Five Year Plan by the Indian Government which states “to make agricultural not only an instrument of maintaining an effective national food security system but also as a catalyst of income and employment generation in rural areas.” (7)
The change in the socio-economic infrastructure of the economy leads to migration to the urban sector and occasionally emigration as well. In modern world, development of health care and education is directly proportional to the growth in economy which attracts the masses to move from one location to another.
During the British rule in 1800’s and early 1900’s the condition of the Indian peasants was worsened by the atrocities forces upon them by the British in the form of taxes. They demanded fixed returns from the peasants either as a percentage of crop growth or as a monetary value. The growth in Indian agriculture was further marred by several factors such as famines, flood and drought. Lack of independent capital was one of the key reasons for low productivity by Indian peasants.
In 1947, India was regarded as an extremely backward living because of the economic conditions, standard of living like housing, health and educational facilities. The partition between India and Pakistan only worsened the situation. Not only was the agricultural production was dismal but the manufacturing industry dominated by cottage and small scale industry took a back step.
In modern times, India holds strategic importance in the map of the modern world because of its rise as one of the most developing nations of the world. However the exponential increase in population has been one of the biggest reasons that hurt the economic prospects of the country. Even though India’s industrialization has been incredible, it has done too little to eliminate the rise of unemployment and poverty in the rural sector.
As mentioned above, the exploding population growth has sabotaged the growth of the agricultural sector. With the available resources and the capacity to produce vegetables and fruits is not sufficient the entire population. Thus, in spite of the increase in production, the next resort is to import eatables from other nations. As a matter of fact, Indian farm production is amongst the lowest in the world. However, the progress of Indian farmers to become self sufficient in food grains post independence is quiet impressive. “Between 1950-51 and 1983-84 the production of food grains rose from 51 million tons to 152.4 million tons; sugarcane from 57 million tons to 177 million tons; cotton from 3 million bales to 6.58 million bales; jute from 3.3 million bales to 7.41 million; and that of the five major oilseeds from 5.2 million tons to 12.8 million tons.” (2) The rapid growth in food grain production post independence can be attributed to the adoption of new technology based on HYV program. Among the plantation crops, coconut leads the production while black pepper is the bottom of the table. “India has the largest area and is the largest producer of raw cashew nut and exporter of cashew kernels in the world.” (3)
Evidently, the best possible solution to the agricultural problem in India is to apprehend the growth of population. Considering the population stays stable, even a small growth in production would appear substantial as it would boost their currency value by exporting products instead of importing the same. However, the chances of putting a hold on the population growth would be a farfetched approach since that can be done only over a large period of time. In the meanwhile the government could be instrumental in improving the agricultural infrastructure in the rural areas. Ironically, “the authors of five year plans in India have not yet included the output of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries in the main output aims for agriculture.” (8) Thus it is important that the people who are responsible for taking the vital decisions expand their vision of the agriculture industry. Educating the farmers and their families is yet another important step that needs to be implemented since majority of rural India is still illiterate. The increased emphasis on irrigation and fertilizer programs drafted in the Five Year Plans will certainly help boost the production. Unlike other crops, plantations play an important role in concentration of natural resources. Mixed tree planting is effective in plantation areas to make soil more productive and high value oriented.
Corruption at various levels in the political system of the Indian economy has contributed to the poor agricultural growth of the country. Even if a particular kind of funding is announced by the central government, it quiet frequently happens that the finance does not reach the spenders by allotted time. As a matter of fact the received funds are less than the ones released because certain unauthorized individual take a portion of the funds as so-called “commissions”.
To conclude the major aim of economic development is to achieve balanced regional development by improving the standard of living not only in urban areas but in rural areas as well. Reduction of regional disparities can indeed be regarded as an ideal motive behind various economic plans as this closes the gap between the rich and the poor. If the rich get richer and poor get poorer, this would not be regarded as a true economic development. Thus, balance in society is of utmost importance which is exactly where the Indian economy is striving to achieve by improving the rural sectors.

Work Cited 1. "Agricultural Policies in India." IDEAS: Economics and Finance Research. Web. 11 May 2011. http://ideas.repec.org/p/fpr/mtiddp/82.html. 2. Bhatia, B. M. Indian Agriculture: A Policy Agriculture. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1988. 10-19. Print. 3. Giriappa, S. Plantation Economy in India. New Delhi: M D Publications, 1995. Print. 4. "India Needs More Reforms to Attain Balanced Growth." Live Trading News. 10 May 2011. Web. 11 May 2011. <http://www.livetradingnews.com/india-needs-more-reforms-to-attain-balanced-growth-41854.htm>. 5. "Indian Agriculture." Telephone interview. 08 May 2011. 6. Matthews, David. Peasants, Famine and the State in Colonial Western India. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Print. 7. Planning Commission, Government of India (1981): Sixth Five Year Plan 1980-85, p. 98

8. Sarkar, Prafulla C. The Planning of Agriculture in India. Vol. 6. Rotterdam UP, 1966. 10-19. Print. Economic Ser. 9. Satya Sundaram, I. Growth of Agriculture and Rural Development in India. Ed. 10. S. Subrahmanya. New Delhi: Deep & Deep Publications, 1987. Print.

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