In India, agriculture is an integral part of the economy, with over 60% of the population directly engaged in agriculture-related activities and more than half of the workforce relying on agriculture in some way.
A 2016 report by the Government of India states that about 58% of the population, roughly about 750 million people, was dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. The percentage of the population engaged in agriculture is among the highest in the world.
In spite of increased mechanisation, a significant portion of the Indian population is still engaged in agricultural activities. According to estimates, around 300 million people work in the primary sector, with the majority employed as agricultural labourers while a smaller portion are engaged in agricultural production. The rest are either employed in the secondary sector such as industries or in the tertiary sector including services.
There has been a gradual shift away from agricultural activities over the years, with a significant portion of the population now dependent on other professions. However, the majority of the workforce is still engaged in agricultural activities which has helped ensure food security in India.
Agriculture continues to play an important role in India’s economic development. In spite of the increase in mechanisation, it remains a major source of employment and livelihood for millions of rural households. It also contributes significantly to India’s overall GDP, accounting for about 15-20% of the total.
In conclusion, it can be seen that a significant portion of India’s population is still engaged in agricultural activities. This has not only helped in ensuring food security in the country but also contributes substantially to its economy.
Factors driving agricultural activities in India
The agricultural sector in India has grown significantly over the years, despite the challenges posed by a rapidly changing environment. A number of factors have contributed to this growth. These include technological advancements, increased investment in the sector, access to credit, better availability of inputs and fertilisers, improved irrigation facilities, and increased public awareness.
Technological advances in areas such as seed technology, pest management and the use of bio-fertilisers have played an important role in increasing productivity. Access to modern agricultural implements has facilitated a more efficient use of resources. Investment in precision agriculture has enabled more efficient management of resources such as soil and water.
Agriculture in India has also been aided by government initiatives such as the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PMKSN) scheme, which provides direct financial assistance to small and marginal farmers. Access to credit has also been improved through the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) scheme, which provides crop insurance to farmers. Initiatives such as the National Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (NMAM) have helped to increase the use of agricultural machinery, thus reducing labour-intensive activities.
Improved availability of inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides and other agro-chemicals has also helped increase agricultural yields. The government has also been promoting the use of organic fertilisers and bio-fertilisers to reduce the risk of soil and water contamination.
The increased availability of irrigation facilities has also played an important role in increasing agricultural productivity. The Government of India has been promoting the efficient use of water resources through various programs such as the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) and the Pradhanmantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana-National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture (PMKSY-NMSA).
Agriculture in India: Challenges and Opportunities
While agriculture in India has grown substantially over the years, there are numerous challenges that the sector is faced with. Poor infrastructure and inadequate access to inputs and technology remain major challenges. The limited access to financial resources, especially credit and insurance, have further reduced the competitiveness of the sector.
Another major challenge faced by the sector is the low level of public expenditure on agriculture. Due to a lack of funds, the sector is unable to adequately invest in research and development activities, thus limiting the scope of technological advancement. This has hampered productivity growth in the sector.
The sector is also faced with the challenge of climate change. Rising temperatures and frequent floods and droughts have adversely impacted agricultural production. The increasing frequency of extreme weather events has resulted in a decrease in yields, thereby hampering the livelihoods of millions of farmers.
Despite the challenges, there are numerous opportunities in the agricultural sector as well. Small and marginal farmers, who form a significant portion of the farming population, have been able to benefit from schemes such as the Prime Minister’s Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana. This scheme has enabled them to access credit and financial resources and thus improve their productivity.
The emergence of e-agriculture has also provided an opportunity for farmers to access information and resources. The use of mobile applications and other technologies has enabled farmers to connect with potential buyers and market their products more efficiently. Similarly, the increased use of technology in agricultural production processes has enabled farmers to raise their productivity and incomes.
Impact of Agriculture on Indian Economy
Agriculture has been an important factor in India’s economic growth and development. Despite the decline in its share of the economy, agriculture still accounts for around 15-20% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). This contribution is even greater for the rural poor, who largely depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.
Agriculture has also had a significant positive impact on poverty reduction in India. Across the country, agricultural incomes have increased and millions of citizens have been lifted out of poverty. As per the World Bank, around 300 million people have been lifted out of extreme poverty since 2004, with agricultural income playing a major role.
The sector is also responsible for providing employment to nearly half of India’s workforce. This includes a large number of small and marginal farmers, who make up a significant portion of the farmers in India. Agricultural activities have also been instrumental in keeping rural wages higher compared to urban areas.
Agriculture is also a major source of foreign exchange earnings for India. Agricultural exports have been rising steadily over the last few years and have surged during the pandemic. In the 2019-20 financial year, the agricultural sector accounted for about 12.7% of India’s total exports.
The sector is also crucial for food security in India. With an increasing population, food demand has been steadily rising. Over the years, the agricultural sector has been able to meet this demand, thus ensuring food security in the country.
Agricultural Land Use in India
Agricultural land is the main source of income for a majority of people in India. The total cultivated area in the country stands at around 130 million hectares which is less than 50% of the total land area available in India. This implies that a significant portion of the land area is not being utilised for agricultural activities.
India’s agricultural land is divided into two categories – irrigated and non-irrigated land. Irrigated land accounts for 59.4% of the total cultivated area, while the remaining 40.6% is non-irrigated. Among irrigated land, about 64% is used for crop production and 36% for other activities.
The majority of the agricultural land is concentrated in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. Uttar Pradesh has the largest share of agricultural land, accounting for about 18.9% of the total. Bihar is the second largest, with a share of 8.7%.
Agricultural land use in India has been the subject of much debate. There have been calls to increase the available land area for agricultural activities. Similarly, there have been concerns over the declining amount of land being used for cultivation, particularly in the more arid regions of the country.
India has also been experiencing a gradual shift in the type of crops grown. The shift is towards high value and high yield crops such as fruits and vegetables. This is being driven by changing consumer preferences and the growing demand for these products in the market.
Agricultural Policies in India
India’s agricultural policies are aimed at achieving sustained growth and development of the sector and ensuring food security in the country. The government has implemented a number of programmes and schemes to support agricultural activities in the country.
The most recent initiative is the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme, which provides direct financial assistance to small and marginal farmers. Similarly, there are other schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, National Mission on Agricultural Mechanization, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana and Pradhanmantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana-National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture which support agricultural activities.
The government has also taken steps to promote the efficient use of water resources through initiatives such as the watershed development programme and the water harvesting campaign. This has ensured the efficient use of limited water resources and provided relief from frequent water shortages.
To ensure food security, the government has also implemented a number of programmes such as the Price Support Scheme and the Food Corporation of India. These programmes have enabled farmers to access credit and inputs at subsidised rates, thus improving productivity and reducing costs.
The government has also been promoting the use of modern technology in agricultural production. This has enabled farmers to make better use of limited resources and increase their yields. It has also provided an opportunity for small and marginal farmers to access modern technologies and increase their income.