Agriculture in India is one of the most important sectors of its economy. It is the means of livelihood of almost two thirds of the work force in the country and according to the economic data for the financial year 2006-07, agriculture accounts for 18% of India's GDP. About 43 % of India's geographical area is used for agricultural activity. Though the share of Indian agriculture in the GDP has steadily declined, it is still the single largest contributor to the GDP and plays a vital role in the overall socio-economic development of India.
One of the biggest success stories of independent India is the rapid
strides made in the field of agriculture. From a nation dependent on
food imports to feed its population, India today is not only
self-sufficient in grain production but also has substantial reserves.
Dependence of India on agricultural imports and the crises of food
shortage encountered in 1960s convinced planners that India's growing
population, as well as concerns about national independence, security,
and political stability, required self-sufficiency in food production.
This perception led to a program of agricultural improvement called the
Green Revolution. It involved bringing additional area under
cultivation, extension of irrigation facilities, the use of improved
high-yielding variety of seeds, better techniques evolved through
agricultural research, water management, and plant protection through
judicious use of fertilisers, pesticides and cropping practices. All
these measures had a salutary effect and the production of wheat and
rice witnessed quantum leap.
To carry improved technologies to farmers and to replicate the success
achieved in the production of wheat and rice a National Pulse
Development Programme, covering 13 states, was launched in 1986.
Similarly, a Technology Mission on Oilseeds was launched in 1986 to
increase production of oilseeds in the country and attain
self-sufficiency. Pulses were brought under the Technology Mission in
1990. After the setting up of the Technology Mission, there has been
consistent improvement in the production of oilseeds. A new seeds policy
has been adopted to provide access to high-quality seeds and plant
material for vegetables, fruit, flowers, oilseeds and pulses, without in
any way compromising quarantine conditions. To give fillip to the
agriculture and make it more profitable, Ministry of Food Processing
Industries was set up in July 1988. Government has also taken
initiatives to encourage private sector investment in the food
However, there are still a host of issues that need to be addressed
regarding Indian agriculture. Indian agriculture is heavily dependent on
monsoons. The monsoons play a critical role in determining whether the
harvest will be rich, average, or poor. The structural weaknesses of the
agriculture sector are reflected in the low level of public investment,
exhaustion of the yield potential of new high yielding varieties of
wheat and rice, unbalanced fertilizer use, low seeds replacement rate,
an inadequate incentive system and post harvest value addition.
There is an urgent need for second green revolution in Indian
agriculture and taking it to a higher trajectory of 4 per cent annual
growth. Following steps need to be taken to achieve this objective: