Agriculture in India

Wheat Field
Agriculture in India
Agriculture plays an important role in the economy of India. The history of agriculture in India dates back to the Neolithic age and as of now, India ranks second in terms of global agricultural output. It employs a little over 50 per cent of Indian populace and accounts for 17.5 per cent of the national GDP by the end of the financial year 2017-18. India ranks first in terms of the net cropped area followed by the United States and China and it has become one of the leading agro-exporters in the world. More than that, the sector has yet to realize its potential and if the right steps are taken by all the shareholder, the sector has a massive potential to drive the growth of India.

Current Scenario
1. As per 2016-17, India produced a record 275.11 million tonnes of food grains which include 110.15 million tonnes of rice, 97.11 million tonnes of wheat, and 45.4 million tonnes of coarse cereals. These numbers are expected to even push further and as per 2017-18 estimates, cross 280 million tonnes mark.
2. Again when it comes to other agro products such as pulses, cotton and sugarcane, one can observe an upward trend. As per 2016-17, the total pulse production was 23.13 million tonnes, the cotton production was 32.58 million bales (a bale is equivalent to 170 kg) and sugarcane production was 342.04 million tonnes. According to the advance estimates by GOI, the numbers for pulses, cotton and sugarcane will increase to 23.95 million tonnes, 33.92 million bales and 353.23 million tonnes respectively.
3. Currently, India is adapting to farm mechanization at a faster rate than the past. Though not a sole indicator of farm mechanization, Indian tractors mark one-third of the global tractor sale, making India, world largest tractor market.
4. India has also shown tremendous growth in Agricultural Research and Development. According to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) data, a total of 209 new varieties or hybrids tolerant to various biotic and abiotic stresses have been released for various food and non-food crops in 2017 alone. Out of 209 new varieties or hybrids released, 117 varieties were developed for cereal crops, 28 were developed for oilseeds, 32 were developed for pulses, 24 were developed for cash crops and 8 were developed for forage crops.
5. Currently, due to growing urban migration by men for livelihood and other sources of income, India is witnessing the feminization of agriculture sector. The number of women who depend on agriculture for their livelihood is as high as 84 per cent in rural India. They make up 33 per cent of cultivators and 47 per cent of agricultural labourers. These numbers do not account women in the allied sector such as fisheries, livestock farming and processing. However, their dominance in agriculture labour setup, they still face a lot of problems and low wages, lower organizational representation and land rights are a few key issues.

Main Crops of India
India grows all major food and non-food crops of the world. It is one of the leading producers of wheat and rice and it leads the charts in terms of fruit and vegetable production.

Food Crops: Rice, Wheat, Maize, Millet, Pulses
Cash Crops: Sugarcane, Cotton, Jute, Tobacco
Plantation: Coffee, Tea, Rubber, Coconut
Horticulture: Fruits, Flowers and Vegetables

Cropping Seasons of India: There are three main cropping seasons in India, namely, 1. Kharif, 2. Rabi and 3. Zaid. The Kharif season stretches from July to October and the main Kharif crops are rice, jowar, maize and tea. The rabi season spans from October to April and the main Rabi crops are wheat, oats, barley and pulses. Finally, Zaid season marks between March and June and the main Zaid crops are seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Rice Production in India: India is the second largest producer of rice in the world. As of 2016-17, India rice production stands at 110.15 million tonnes, this is around 6.3 per cent increase from the previous financial year 2015-16 production at 103.61 million tonnes. On a wider timescale, this is a fivefold increase from independence, when India's rice production was around 20 million tonnes. This increase in rice production is the result of better irrigation, high-quality seeds, and new agricultural technologies along with numerous state and central Government policies.

Wheat Production in India: India is one of the earliest places on earth to domesticate wheat. As of 2016-17, India is the second largest producer of wheat in the world and its wheat production stands at 97.11 million tonnes. The wheat production in India has increased 15 times since its independence in 1947 and six times since the introduction of high yielding crops in India in the 1960s. The increase in wheat production is the same as above in the case of the increase in rice production in India. However, there is a lot of room for improvement as India wheat production at per hectare is only one-third of the world per hectare production.

Agri Commerce of India
As of 2013, the Indian agricultural export stands at USD 39 billion, which is more than double of combined agricultural export of 28 European Union member countries. Its main export commodities are rice, cotton, sugar, coffee, spices and meat.

As per the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the Indian Agro-food market has attracted a cumulative investment of USD 8.57 billion in over past ten years, 2008-2018.

According to the Agriculture Export Policy 2018 approved by Government of India in December 2018, India aims to increase its agriculture exports to USD 60 billion by 2022 and USD 100 in next few years with stable trade policy.

On another hand, the Government of India has committed Rs 6,000 crore (US$ 936.38 billion) as investments for existing and new mega food parks and cold storages across the country under Scheme for Agro-Marine Produce Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters (SAMPADA) scheme. The Government of India is working on 42 mega food parks and 234 cold chain projects.

Challenges
1. Small and fragmented land holdings: Though India boasts the highest net cropped area, it becomes insignificant when we see that divided into economically unviable small holdings. The average size of holdings is around 2 hectares.
2. Seeds: Seed is the basic input unit for agriculture. However, good quality seeds are out of reach of the major sections, simply because of unreasonably high seed prices.
3. Manures, Fertilizers and Biocides: Similar to seeds, the average price of manure, fertilizers and biocides in India is exorbitantly high.
4. Lack of irrigational facilities: Again India is the second largest irrigated country after China, but the irrigation facilities are not available to a major part of the country. It is mainly due to the corrupt nature of Indian politics.
5. Soil erosion: A large tract of India suffers from soil erosoion.
6. Lower Price for farm produce: Indian farmers have to sell their crops at unconciously less rates due to the Government lack of will to increase minimum support price.

In addition, older farming techniques, inadequate transportation facility, storage facility and financing facility also mar the Indian agriculture.

Future Prospectives
India yet to reach its potential in agriculture. Currently, India has one of the lowest per hectare yield produce rates in the world, but with increasing investments in facilities like irrigation, ware house and cold storage from state and central Government of India, and private players, one can see the change. India is also on its way to become self sufficient in pulses and other agro commodities. More than that, the Government of India has also set the ambitious target to double average farm income by 2022 from 2015 numbers.

Agriculture Statistics of India at a Glance


ParameterNumbersRemark
Population Parameters (2011)
Population1210.8 million
Total Working Population481.8 million(39.80% of Total Population)
Total Main Workers362.5 million(75.24% of Total Working Population)
Total Marginal Workers119.3 million(24.76% of Total Working Population)
Total Nonworkers728.9 million(60.20% of Total Population)
Male Population623.2 million(51.47% of Total Population)
Male Working Population331.9 million(68.88% of Total Working Population)
Female Population587.5 million(48.52% of Total Population)
Female Working Population149.9 million(31.12% of Total Working Population)
Agriculture Cultivators118.8 million
Agriculture Labourers144.3 million
Agriculture Cultivators and Labourers263.1 million(54.60% of Total Working Population)
Male Cultivators82.7 million
Male Agriculture Labourers82.7 million
Male Agriculture Cultivators and Labourers165.5 million(62.89% of Total Cultivators and Labourers)
Female Cultivators36.05 million
Female Agriculture Labourers61.59 million
Female Agriculture Cultivators and Labourers97.6 million(37.10% of Total Cultivators and Labourers)
Indian Population Below Poverty Line21.9 % of Total Population
Land Parameters (2014-15) in Million Hectare
Geographic Area328.73
Reported Are307.82
Forest71.79
Not Available For Cultivation43.88
Fallow Land26.18
Land Other than Fallow Land25.83
Net Sown Area140.13
Gross Cropped Area198.36
Area Sown More than Once58.23
Cropping Intensity141.55
Net Irrigated Area68.38
Gross Irrigated Area96.46

Also Read
1. History of Agriculture in India
2. Agroclimatic Zones of India

Reference
1. MOSPI
2. AGRICOOP