National Agricultural Scenario


India’s economic security continues to be predicated upon the agriculture sector, and the situation is not likely to change in the foreseeable future. Even now, agriculture supports 58% of the population, as against about 75% at the time of independence. In the same period, the contribution of agriculture and allied sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has fallen from 61 to 19%. As of today, India supports 16.8% of world’s population on 4.2% of world’s water resources and 2.3% of global land. And per caput availability of resources is about 4 to 6 times less as compared to world average. This will decrease further due to increasing demographic pressure and consequent diversion of the land for non-agricultural uses.

Around 51% of India’s geographical area is already under cultivation as compared to 11% of the world average. The present cropping intensity of 136% has registered an increase of only 25% since independence. Further, rainfed drylands constitute 65% of the total net sown area. There is also an unprecedented degradation of land (107 million ha) and groundwater resource, and also fall in the rate of growth of total factor productivity. This deceleration needs to be arrested and agricultural productivity has to be doubled to meet growing demands of the population by 2050. Efficiency-mediated improvement in productivity is the most viable option to raise production.

The country recorded impressive achievements in agriculture during three decades since the onset of green revolution in late sixties. This enabled the country to overcome widespread hunger and starvation; achieve self-sufficiency in food; reduce poverty and bring economic transformation in millions of rural families. The situation, however, started turning adverse for the sector around mid-nineties, with slowdown in growth rate of output, which then resulted in stagnation or even decline in farmers’ income leading to agrarian distress, which is spreading and turning more and more serious.

Natural resource base of agriculture, which provides for sustainable production, is shrinking and degrading, and is adversely affecting production capacity of the ecosystem. However, demand for agriculture is rising rapidly with increase in population and per caput income and growing demand from industry sector. There is, thus, an urgent need to identify severity of problem confronting agriculture sector to restore its vitality and put it back on higher growth trajectory. The problems, however, are surmountable, particularly when new tools of science and technology have started offering tremendous opportunities for application in agriculture.

The projected production requirements of various agricultural commodities by 2011–12 and growth rates needed to meet those requirements are as follows:

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