(Sample Material) IAS PRE GS Online Coaching : Economic & Social Development - Agriculture

Sample Material of Our Online Coaching Programme

Subject: Economic & Social Development
Topic: Agriculture

With about 14.5% contribution (2011) to the gross domestic product (GDP), agriculture provides livelihood support to about two-thirds of country’s population. The sector provides employment to 57% of country’s work force and is the single largest private sector occupation. Agriculture accounts for about 10% of the total export earnings and provides raw material to a large number of Industries (textiles, silk, sugar, rice, flour mills, milk products). Besides, the rural areas are the biggest markets for low-priced and middle-priced consumer goods, including consumer durables. It means, if agriculture performs, rural demand is high. Rural domestic savings are an important source of resource mobilisation.

The agriculture sector is crucial in maintaining food security and in the process, national security as well. The allied sectors like horticulture, animal husbandary, dairy and fisheries, have an important in improving the overall economic conditions and health and nutrition of the rural people. Thus any change in this sector, positive or negative, has a multiplier effect on the entire economy.

Recognising the crucial role played by the agriculture sector in enabling the widest dispersal of economic benefits, the Eleventh Plan has emphasised that agricultural development is central to equitable and fast economic development of country.

Food Deficit to Food surplus

After remaining a food deficit country for about two decades after Independence, India has become self-sufficient in foodgrains.

From the mid 1960s, food security improved with the introduction of high yielding varieties (HYVs) of crops and the development of agriculture infrastructure for irrigation, input supply, storage and marketing. The HYVs motivated farmers to adopt improved production technologies with the use of water, fertilesers and agrochemicals. Besides the public sector rural infrastructure, farmers developed their own ‘on farm’ resources. The extension support for production technology and the marketing support through procurement operations encouraged farmers to step up production. The production of various crop commodities has increased substantially over the various Plan periods.

The foodgrain production in 2010- 11 was more than 240mt an unprecedented level & in 2011-12 it is 235.54 mt.

Accounting for Success in Agriculture

The main factors for the all-round success of agriculture have been

  • increase in net sown area
  • expension of irrigation facilities
  • land reforms, especially consolidation of holdings
  • development and introduction of high yielding seeds
  • fertilizers
  • improved implements and farm machines
  • technology for pest management
  • price policy based on MSP and procurement operations
  • infrastructure for storage/cold storage
  • improvements in trade system
  • increase in investments, etc.

However, in sprite of the spectacular achievements, various constraints and disturbing trends continue to hamper the requisite growth of the agriculture sector.

Ques. 1 : Write a short notes on Crisis and Challenge in Agriculture.

Ans. One of the major challenges of the 11th Plan is to reverse the deceleration in agricultural growth from 3.2% observed between 1980 and 1996-97 to a trend average of less than 2% subsequently. This deceleration is the root cause of the problem of rural distress that has surfaced in many parts of the country-unemployment, under-employment, declining incomes, distress migration etc.

Low farm incomes due to inadequate productivity growth, high prices of inputs and lack of credit at reasonable rates pushed many farmers into crippling debt. Uncertainties have increased- prices, quality of inputs, weather and pests which, coupled with unavailability of proper extension and risk insurance have led farmers to despair. This has also led to widespread distress migration, a rise in the number of female headed households in rural areas and a general increase in women’s work burden and vulnerability.

To reverse this trend, corrective policies are being implemented under the 11th Plan-focused not only on the small and marginal farmers who continue to deserve special attention, but also on middle and large farmers who suffer from productivity stagnation arising from a variety of constraints. Bharat Nirman with irrigation component is an example.

It is vital to increase agricultural incomes for reasons of employment, equity, food security etc. A second green revolution is urgently needed to raise the growth rate of agricultural GDP to around 4% in an evergreen way (ecological friendly). This is not an easy task since actual growth of agricultural GDP including forestry and fishing, was below 2% for the 10th Plan period. The challenge posed, therefore, is to at least double the rate of agricultural growth. The challenge posed, the 12th plan Aproch Paper (2012-17) targets 4% growth rate for agriculture.