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Agriculture Growth in India- Grave situation
In 2011-12, agriculture and allied sectors grew by 2.5% and their share in the GDP fell from 14.7% in 2009-10 to 13.9% in 2011-12. This 13.9 percent of country’s GDP is distributed among more than 50 percent of the population which is dependent on agriculture. Moreover, since agriculture growth depends on the vagaries of monsoon, erratic agriculture production further threats food security.
Population in India is consistently. Rapid growth in population growth is threatening Indian agriculture as the demand for food, which is expected to grow significantly, is degrading land faster. Economic Survey 2011-12 has also warned that more than half the population is dependent on a sector whose share in the economy is shrinking, leading to a bigger urban-rural divide and threatening national food security.
4 percent consistent growth rate of agriculture is considered essential to increase the income of agricultural work force as well as provide food security to the billion plus Indians. Thus the survey rightly points out that the big challenge before the government is how to address "welfare of agricultural producers and consumers simultaneously".
In one way, when around 60 percent of population is dependent on agriculture for its livelihood, welfare of agricultural producers will mean welfare of 60 percent consumers as well since every human being consumes agriculture produce.
Objective of food security requires twin strategies of increasing agriculture productivity as well as controlling population also.
Since it is practically impossible to bring more land under cultivation because of pressure of urbanisation, industrialisation and environment, productivity enhancement is the only solution left. Just like Economic reforms in 1991 spurred the economic grow of India, time has come for agriculture reforms to boost the agriculture growth.
There are basically seven factors which need focused reforms in the short and medium terms. These are:
(a) Price policy
(b) Subisidies and investments
(c) Land issues
(d) Irrigation and water management
(e) Research and extension
(g) Domestic market reforms and diversification.
The major underlying objective of the Indian Government’s price policy is to protect both producers and consumers. One criticism of procurement policy is that it is limited to few crops and few states only. Further, from consumer point of view also, off take from Public Distribution System (PDS) is also unequal across the states. In the context of globalization, tariff policy becomes important for agricultural commodities. In other words, it is important to monitor exports, imports, global supply and demand and fix tariffs accordingly.
One major reform needed in agriculture sector relates to reduction in subsidies and increase in investments. Agricultural subsidies are fiscally unsustainable and encourage misuse of resources, leading to environmentally malignant developments. Moreover, rise in public and private investment is crucial for enhancing agricultural growth.
Some argue that small size of farm is responsible for low profitability of agriculture. Chinese and the experience of other East Asian countries show that it is not a constraint. The two major elements of such a reform are: security of tenure for tenants during the period of contract; and the right of the land owner to resume land after the period of contract is over. There are some emerging land issues such as increase in demand for land for non-agricultural purposes including special economic zones, displacement of farmers, tribals and others due to development projects. There is a need for careful land acquisition. Land alienation is a serious problem in tribal areas.
Water is the leading input in agriculture. Development of irrigation and water management are crucial for raising levels of living in rural areas. Major areas of concern in irrigation are: decline in real investment, thin spread of investment, low recovery of costs, decline in water table, wastages and inefficiencies in water use and, non-involvement of users Both investment and efficiency in use of water are needed. Watershed development and, water conservation by the community are needed under water management. New watershed guidelines based on Parthasarathy Committeeâ€Ÿs recommendations were accepted by the Central Cabinet in March 2009. The implementation has to be stepped up in order to obtain benefits in rainfed areas.
The yield of many crops had flattened since last few years. National Food Security Mission (NFSM) has been launched in 2007 to increase 20 million tonnes of foodgrains (10 m.t. for rice, 8 m.t. for wheat and 2 m.t. for pulses) during the 11th plan period. It has already shown some results by increasing yields in different regions. There is a need to strengthen this mission to increase productivity. Funds as well as human resources must be earmarked to assure the development of new high yielding varities. Not only this, path from technology from lab to field must also be shorter one.
All the farmers must be covered under institutional credit and their repayment instalments must be aligned with the harvesting season.
For small and marginal farmers, marketing of their products is main problem apart from credit and extension. In recent years, there has been some form of contract arrangements in several agricultural crops such as tomatoes, potatoes, chillies, gherkin, baby corn, rose, onions, cotton, wheat, basmati rice, groundnut, flowers, and medicinal plants. There is a silent revolution in institutions regarding non-cereal foods. New production, market linkages in the food supply chain are: spot or open market transactions, agricultural co-operatives and contract farming.
Thus, a sustainable agricultural growth needs a holistic approach, reforming every sector and linkages of agriculture. On the other hand, population control measures must also be adopted so that resources are more equitable shared among the masses. Once Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru said ‘everything can wait except agriculture’ but in reality, everything had moved except agriculture. Need of hour is to make agriculture a gainful employment, thus provide food security as well as livelihood security to the masses.
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