India’s Agricultural Sector

What is the importance of agriculture for India?

1. Agriculture, as a source of livelihood, is the largest sector of the Indian economy.  

2. The agricultural sector provides food, raw material and employment to a large section of the population.

3. About 70% of India’s population is engaged in agriculture and allied sectors.

4. Agro-products like tea, sugar, rice, etc contribute significantly in international trade and help in balance of payments in favour of India.

Which areas need focus?

Focus shall be made on:

1. Components like soil, irrigation, seeds, fertilisers and pesticides and modern farm technology.

2. Allied activities like horticulture (garden cultivation), floriculture (flower farming), fisheries, animal husbandry and poultry.

3. Value addition through food processing and marketing system.

How has Government taken steps to improve productivity and enhance the income of farmers?

The Government of India has taken several measures to bring major transformations and growth in agriculture sector in recent years:

1. Budgetary allocation of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Ministry in the budget 2018-19 has been increased to Rs 59,080 crore from Rs 51,576 crore in 2017-18.

2. Soil Health Card Scheme: The health of the soil plays a crucial role in agriculture. The scheme aims to enable farmers across the country to apply appropriate recommended dosages of nutrients for crop production and improving soil health and its quality.

3. Urea: A significant increase in Urea production has tremendously helped fertilizer distribution. The implementation of 100% neem coating of urea has helped in improving the soil quality and prevent diversion of fertilisers to other purposes.

4. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana: It aims at extending the coverage of irrigation ‘Har Khet Ko Pani’ (Water for every farm) and improving water use efficiency. It focusses on ‘More crop per drop’ for efficient distribution, management, field application and extension services. The scheme will help in water conservation as well.

5. Institutional credit: To save farmers (particularly small and marginal farmers) from being exploited in the hands of informal credit sources such as money lenders, several steps have been taken by the Government to increase institutional credit flow.

6. Minimum Support Price (MSP): The Government, in July 2018, approved the MSP hike for Kharif crops to 1.5 times the cost.

7. Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakhsan Abhiyaan (PM-AASHA): It is aimed at ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers for their produce.

8. The electronic National Agriculture Market (e-NAM): It has helped better marketing of agricultural produce through digitalisation.

9. Storage: Huge investment has been made in warehousing and cold chains to prevent post-harvest crop losses.

10. Allied agricultural activities: Activities like fisheries, aquaculture and animal husbandry are being focussed.

These schemes ensure bringing prosperity to the farmers and boost agricultural growth. India also witnessed record food-grain production in 2017-18.