Reinventing Indian agriculture

January 26, 2021 05:45 pm | Updated 05:54 pm IST

76626454 - indian man holding sickle and crops

76626454 - indian man holding sickle and crops

Like any other private enterprise, it requires government support, private investment, and technological upgradation

India is a land of unity in diversity. We see this unity in cricket and  agriculture . Both bind more than 80% of people directly and indirectly. Though the recent Gabba victory has shown cricket in a different light,  agriculture  is in peril. A host of factors are responsible for this, and it is time to implement steps to reinvent the backbone of our  economy .

Rushikesh Dudhat, Top Unacademy Educator

Rushikesh Dudhat, Top Unacademy Educator

 

The  agriculture  sector in India employs close to 263 million people in what can only be deemed as the world’s largest agricultural land. India ranks second in the world in terms of agricultural production and agricultural production has increased from  USD 87 billion to USD 459 billion in the past 15 years . Globally, India ranks ninth in agricultural exports. Despite this, the agricultural industry is far from flourishing. However, there are ways to resolve this.

Nearly 41% of the Indian population  is employed in agriculture while its contribution to the  GDP is around 18% . This means that more people are engaged in agriculture and hence the per capita income decreases. In economic terms, it is known as disguised unemployment where too many people are filling too few jobs. To address this, we need to shift the excess people from agriculture to other economic activities. This will translate to job creation that will not be restricted only to large metros but will also make the rural economy self-sufficient and resilient.

Focus on handicrafts, food-processing, MSME and skill development is required. MSME can be the backbone as well as a stepping stone towards further industrialisation. Paintings, hand-made soaps, wooden toys, and bamboo products are in huge demand both domestically and internationally as people shun toxic materials. As for the price, large scale manufacturing and supply chain management can help reduce the cost.

Migrant labour from eastern India forms the majority of industrial and agricultural labour. As a result, brain and labour drain in the source regions is affecting development. Reverse migration of labour will help regenerate agriculture in eastern India. This will require institutional as well as technological intervention.

As landholdings are small, using  technology  in  farming  is not remunerative for small and marginal farmers. The Government should promote cooperative farming and consolidate landholdings. It is important to let farmers be economically self-sufficient before exposing them to market forces such as corporate  farming .

The last technological intervention was the Green Revolution whose benefits have plateaued and even have caused negative consequences. The need of the hour is large scale area-specific technological interventions such as micro-irrigation, rainwater harvesting, balanced fertiliser use for soil health, seed certification, use of indigenous varieties, and post-harvest management.

As far as complaints of wrong cropping patterns go, the solution lies with the Government. Declaring MSP for all crops will incentivise farmers to grow crops as per agro-ecological regions rather than focusing on the dominant rice-wheat pattern.

The stakes are high, but as any private enterprise, it too requires government support, private investment, and technological upgradation. Categorise agriculture into three components: sowing, crop-production, and post-harvest. Identify the deficit, intervene and make India an agricultural powerhouse. We were successful in the 1960s, so today with globalisation, strong economic and political power we can easily re-invent Indian agriculture.

Click to enroll for the free live on ‘Reinventing Indian agriculture’ on January 26 at 6 PM . Use code UPSCCSE.

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