Talking on agriculture, About 75% of the Indian population lives in rural areas and about 80% of this population is dependent on agriculture for its livelihood.Agriculture accounts for about 37% of the national income. The development of the rural areas and of agriculture and its allied activities thus becomes vital for the rapid development of the economy as a whole.
Even though India occupies the first or second position in the world in several crops in terms of area and production, it's rank in terms of productivity per hectare in the world is 52 for rice, 38 for wheat and much low in several other crops. The productivity of some crops is not only low but also remained stagnant over the years. The yield gap needs to be bridged through an integrated package of technology and agricultural policies to reap the untapped production potential, particularly, in rain-fed and other low productivity areas.
What the INDIA INC says abt it?
A number of corporate players have entered into agreement with the farmers with major investment plans to tap the huge potential in this sector.
- PepsiCo after introducing farmers to high-yielding basmati rice, mangoes, potatoes, chillies, peanuts and barley, has launched a five-year program with the Punjab Government to provide four million sweet-orange trees.
- Cadbury India Ltd has entered into an agreement with the Tamil Nadu Horticulture Department to promote cocoa farming in 50,000 acres.
- Reliance Retail plans to establish links with farms in Punjab, West Bengal and Maharashtra with an US$ 5.6 billion investment.
- Skol Breweries India Ltd, the wholly owned subsidiary of SABMiller India, has entered into a contract farming agreement with barley farmers in Haryana.
- Himalaya Drugs plans to associate with farmers across southern Indian states for sourcing at least 70 per cent of its herbs.
India with its favorable agro-climatic conditions and rich natural resource base has become the world's largest producer across a range of commodities.
- India is the largest producer of coconuts, mango, banana, milk and dairy products, cashew nuts, pulses, ginger, turmeric and black pepper.
- It is also the second largest producer of rice, wheat, sugar, cotton, fruits and vegetables.
The year 2007-08 promises to be a bumper year for Indian agriculture, with a host of crops clocking record output levels. Some of the highlights of the third advance estimates of the production of major crops, released by the Agriculture Ministry for 2007-08, are:
- Food grain production is estimated to be at an all time record level of 227.32 million tonnes (MT).
- Wheat production is projected to be at a record 76.78 MT.
- Rice production likewise is estimated at an all time record of 95.68 MT.
- Coarse Cereals are also estimated to produce an all time record 39.67 MT.
- Cotton production is estimated to be 23.19 million bales of 170 kg, the best ever production level.
- Pulses production is estimated at the highest ever production level of 15.19 MT.
Apart from these, other crops which are likely to record highest ever production levels in 2007-08 include Maize (18.54 MT), Tur (3.03 MT), Urad (1.56 MT), Oilseeds (28.21 MT) and Soyabean (9.43 MT).
In fact, the estimated growth in food grains output by 4.6 per cent in 2007-08 is nearly four times the average annual growth of 1.2 per cent during 1990-2007.
Also, according to the US Department of Agriculture, India will register the highest increase in rice production (16.3 million tonne) globally in the next 10 years.
- "Indian spices saw a 20 per cent rise in export volumes in April-May, totalling up to 98,570 tonnes as against 82,210 tonnes a year back."
- Coir exports rose sharply by 20.47 per cent to 118,158 tonnes during April-November.
- Indian sugar exports are expected to more than double in 2007-08, on the back of 1.1 million tonnes exports in 2006-07.
- Cotton exports stood at 6 million bales during the 2007-08 fiscal year.
- Rice exports grew by a whopping 61 per cent during April-October 2007 over the corresponding period in 2006.
Currently, India ranks 33 in the world in terms of total land under organic cultivation and 88 in terms of the ratio of agricultural land under organic crops to total farming area. But this is set to improve with increasing interest shown by many states.
Nine state including Haryana, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu among others have already submitted proposals for accreditation to APEDA, which will allow them to certify produce of their farmers as organic.
Government has been taking various progressive measures to accelerate the growth of this sector. Some of the recent initiatives taken by the government include:
- Allowing private sector companies engaged in business of warehousing or transport of food grains in procurement operations on behalf of the Food Corporation of India (FCI)
- A weather-based agricultural insurance scheme is to be rolled out across select districts in 12 states for the forthcoming rabi season.
- Construction of seven Modern Terminal Markets with modern infrastructure facilities that will help farmers realize maximum returns for their produce, remove middlemen and ensure lower prices for end-consumer.