Saturday, 2 April 2016

Past, Present and the Future of Agriculture in India

Agriculture in India has been an integral part of its socio-economic system since Vedic era. It has gone through many changes in term of farming techniques, crops productivity and processing of agro products. Today India is second largest in farm output. Agriculture and allied sectors accounted 13.7% of GDP in year 2013 and supports 50% of Indian labour force. So demographically agriculture is biggest economic sector in India.

Agriculture in Ancient India
Rigveda is the earliest written record which provides evidence of agriculture in India. It describes plowing, fallowing, irrigation, fruits and vegetable cultivation. Other historic evidences were discovered from excavation sites of Indus valley civilization. Rice and cotton were the main crops of that era.
          In middle age agriculture was a routine activity in Indo-Gangetic plain. That time it was mainly subsistence farming. Irrigation by canals was prevalent and land and water management systems were developed to attain uniform growth.

Agriculture in Colonization Era-
During British colonization period, main focus was on sugarcane, cotton, jute etc cash crops. New cultivating areas were discovered and colonies were established to meet demand of agro product based factories in port cities of mainland India and UK. Modernisation of Indian agriculture was started but socio-economic aspect of Agri- related societies was largely ignored.

Agriculture Post Independent 
After independence, India has made continuous improvement in agriculture field especially in term of food grains production.

Green Revolution- Before 1960's India was highly dependent on imports and food aids to meet its need. 1965's and 1966's severe droughts and some political issues convinced India to reform its agriculture policy and that they could not rely on foreign aids in food security.
                                 Significant policy changes were adopted like superior yielding seeds, disease resistant wheat varieties in combination with better farming knowledge to improve productivity. This was earlier started from Punjab later spread to Haryana and western UP. With agriculture policy success in wheat, Indian green revolution spread to rice. In 1970s and 1980s green revolution was spread to Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal.

Problems and Possible Solutions
1)  Indian agriculture Kharif crop is basically monsoon dependent. In poor monsoon years, the farming output is low due to poor developed alternate irrigation system. This situation could be avoided with proper development of alternate irrigation system if monsoon fails. Crop planning as per climate can also be used with modern days technique. Early weather forecast services can be used  to predict rainfalls.
2) Farming by old techniques is also prevalent in Indian subcontinent. This kind of farming is more labour intense with old traditional ways, which has got low production rate. Subsistence farming is also common where farmer grows crops to fulfill his own family needs. Proper education and training of modern farming techniques, high yielding seeds, disease resistance breeds, with proper irrigation, use of machines, tools, technology, biotechnology, genetic engineering etc can improve our production rate and so overall socio-economic status of farmers.
3) Small land size is another factor wich is responsible for poor output. Land is divided generations after generations. Small farm size is not ideal for growing cash crops. Reunion of small farmland by cooperative farming is ideal solution to this hurdle.
4) Poor economic condition of Indian farmers prevent them from buying good quality seeds, agri-related tools, fertilizers, capacity to hold the product if market doesn't favors. In this condition, farmers goes to money lenders and borrow money on high interest, in any case if crop fails he is in tarp of that money lender. This is the main reason behind Suicide in Farmers. This situation can be avoided if farmers have easy assess to bank loans on minimum interest rates. Co-operative loans, NABARD, Kisan Credit Cards are some good initiatives in this direction. farmers can also prevent to fall in debt if strong policy on crop insurance are made and implemented. Recently Narendra Modi government launched a crop insurance scheme Pradhanmantri Fasal Bima Yojna where farmers have to pay sum of 2% and 1.5% for Kharif and Rabi crops respectively.
5) Poor development of infrastructures is another big problem in Indian agriculture sector. The roads are seasonal, electrification and electric supply is also poor. Alternate irrigation system like dams and canals are poorly developed and underused. Godowns and cold storage facilities are not in reach of common farmers. Supporting infrastructure with, well planned alternate irrigation backup and world-class storage facilities can take our agriculture to a new level.
6) There is a recent trend on high, use of agriculture land for non-agriculture activities like building colonies, constructing roads/bridges, setting up new factories. Our cities are spreading fast and infrastructure development to cope up with growing population is creating a pressure to use agriculture land, to be used for non-agriculture activities.

Future of Agriculture In India
Indian agriculture is still in developing phase. With planned modernization, our agriculture sector will boost its capacity to add in our GDP and give more employment opportunities to people attached to it. The trend of eco-friendly farming on rise where crops are taken without using artificial fertilizer and pesticides. Government should boost eco-friendly farmings by providing subsidies. Our agro sector needs a boost in education and research field.
                                I still believe in 'Saksham Kisan, Saksam Bharat'.