Agriculture for Sustainable Development in India
10 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2014
Date Written: 2013
Agriculture has been a way of life and continues to be the single most important livelihood of the masses in India. The country is the second largest economy in Asia after China, as measured in terms of its gross domestic product (GDP). The main objective of the study is to examine the role of agriculture in sustainable economic development of the Indian economy. India ranks among the top countries of the world with regard to production of food grains, fruits & vegetables, commercial crops, livestock and animal products. Agriculture has been acting as a driving force for our economy as it generates employment, national income, foreign exchange, food for people, feed for livestock, etc. However, since 1950-51, the focus of the successive governments on agricultural development has been declining which is evident from the declining budget allocated for agriculture and allied activities; from about 15 per cent during the first five year plan to a mere 3.7 per cent during the eleventh five year plan. Despite the struggle for growth without any preferential assistance, agricultural sector still provides employment to about 53 per cent of the total Indian population. The growth rate of agriculture including allied activities is 1.91 per cent and it accounted for 13.69 percent of GDP of the country in 2012-13. On an average the percentage share of agricultural imports and exports to total national imports and exports in 2010-11 was 3.50 percent and 10.47 percent, respectively. India’s livestock sector is the largest in the world which provides milk, wool, hides, meat and also, draught power for farm operations. Such a vast number of livestock needs to be fed and agriculture is the source for it. The public sector investment in agriculture sector has been declining since 2004-05 as it was 21.27 per cent of the total investment which declined to 15.11 per cent in 2010-11.
Contrastingly, private investment in this sector has been increasing during the same period. Sustained development can be assured through the fulfillment of basic needs of employment, food and shelter, for which agriculture plays a pivotal role. For agricultural sector to evolve and for sustainable economic development, focus needs to be laid on substantial increase in public investment, agriculture research and development of rural infrastructure. Efforts are also needed to create strong research-extension-farm linkages. For this purpose, there must be promotion of farmers’ organization groups. Thus, a complementary state cooperative strategy may play a key role to improve agricultural production and productivity. Appropriate agricultural policy, food procurement and distribution policy are needed for agricultural development. In addition, pricing of inputs such as seeds, chemicals, electricity and irrigation water must be controlled by the government. Farm subsidies should be rationalized and better targeted to benefit the small and marginal farmers. These subsidies are justified as they benefit not only small producers but the society at large. Efforts are being made to increase the crop intensity but emphasis also needs to be laid on making optimum use of dry lands which are about two-thirds of the total arable land. National policies should aim at and encourage the efficient use of rainwater for dry land farming which can be facilitated by constructing adequate infrastructure. This will facilitate agricultural development after centuries of stagnant agriculture, in the semi-arid areas. There is ample evidence that agriculture has both contributed to and been impacted by climate change. More research is needed to understand climate change in order to enhance the resilience of agriculture. Though agriculture plays a vital role in the economic development, the urgency to protect, sustain and develop it has been left in the hind side. All the sectors of an economy are important, but only a developed agricultural sector will lead to comprehensive growth. Revitalisation of cooperative institutions, improving rural credit system, reorganising research, human resource development, trade and export promotion, land reforms and education among masses are the fundamental issues for an all-round development of the economy and to build an egalitarian society.
Keywords: Agriculture; employment; role of agriculture; Indian economy and sustainable development
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