Saturday, September 14, 2013

Raising growth rate of Indian agriculture

Agriculture sector in India continues to be the key sector in terms of its share of livelihood, its contribution to GDP, its role in industrial development and in ensuring food security for the nation.

Indian agricultural sector, however, continues to grow below 4 percent annually. In the 11th Five Year Plan(2007-12), the average annual growth of agriculture and allied sector was 3.6 percent, below the targeted 4 percent.

How can the growth rate of agriculture sector be raised?

a) Land Reforms - They are a time-tested method of raising productivity in agriculture. Land Reforms ensure that the farmers are incentivised to make improvement on their farms and raise productivity.

b) Consolidation of Land Holdings - In India, the rapidly increasing population coupled with the law of inheritance has led to a subdivision of land holdings resulting in smaller and fragmented land holdings, thereby, making it difficult to adopt mechanized farming. Consolidating them can ensure that mechanized farming takes place and leads to greater productivity.

c) Infrastructure - Lack of storage, marketing, credit facilities, irrigation facilities etc. often lead to lower-than-optimal agricultural growth. Developing infrastructure will surely improve our prospects for a fast growing agriculture sector.

d) Research - Investment in research to develop seeds which are both high-yielding and climate-resistant needs to be stepped up.India fairs badly in terms of yield of crops like wheat, rice, pulses, etc. Besides, India is becoming highly vulnerable to climate change. Unpredictable weather patterns adversely affect crops and the resultant output.

e) Diversification of Agriculture - Diversification of agriculture into allied activities like horticulture, animal husbandry, poultry and fisheries will raise income for the poor and thereby generate rural prosperity and contribute to agricultural growth.

f) Reforms in Marketing - Poor marketing affects both the producers and the end-consumers. Reforms in marketing will help in modernizing the supply chain. Efforts should be made for direct marketing of farm produce to the end-consumer by eliminating the intermediaries. This will ensure better prices to the farmers and also keep food inflation under check.

g) Sustainable agriculture - There is a need to adopt green techniques to agriculture, for instance, by substituting the use of fertilizers with compost. Failing to do so will lead to degradation of our environment and destroy our prospects for the future.

Indian agriculture has a vast untapped potential. Appropriate strategies will undoubtedly help in realizing this potential.

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