Challenges Faced by Indian Agriculture


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.

Some of the major challenges faced by Indian Agriculture are:

1. Stagnation in Production of Major Crops: Production of some of the major staple food crops like rice and wheat has been stagnating for quite some time. This is a situation which is worrying our agricultural scientists, planners and policy makers. If this trend continues, there would be a huge gap between the demand of ever growing population and the production. Nobody wants India to go back to a situation that was prevailing in our country prior to Green Revolution. Try to find out what was the situation during pre-Green Revolution period.

2. High cost of Farm Inputs: Over the years rates of farm inputs have increased manifold. Farm inputs include fertilizer, insecticide, pesticides, HYV seeds, farm labour cost etc. Such an increase puts low and medium land holding farmers at a disadvantage.

3. Soil Exhaustion: The green revolution has led to negative consequences. One of which is Soil exhaustion. Soil exhaustion means loss of nutrients in the soil from farming the same crop over and over again. This usually happens in the rain forest.

4. Depletion of Fresh Ground Water: The second major negative consequence of green revolution is depletion of fresh ground water. Today fresh ground water situation in Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh is alarming. In the coming few years if this type of farming practice continues, these states are going to face water famine.

5. Adverse impact of Global Climatic Change: It has been predicted that its impact on agriculture would be immense. It is predicted that due to climate change, temperature would increase from 2°C to 3°C, there would be increase in sea level, more intense cyclones, unpredictable rainfall etc. These changes would adversely affect the production of rice and wheat. Specifically, rise in temperature in winter would affect production of wheat in north India. Production of rice would be affected in coastal areas of India due to ingress of saline water and increase of frequency of cyclones.

6. Impact of Globalisation : All developing countries have been affected by it. The most evident effect is the squeeze on farmer’s income and the threat to the viability of cultivation in India. This is due to the rising input costs and falling output prices. This reflects the combination of reduced subsidy and protection to farmers. Trade liberalization exposes these farmers to competition from highly subsidized production in the developed world. Globalisation refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity.

7. Providing Food Security: Although India has become self sufficient in good it is yet to ensure food security which is dependent upon accessibility, affordability as well nutritional value of the food available. One of the biggest challenges facing India is Providing Food Security to its population.

8. Farmers Suicide: Commercialization of the countryside along with massive decline in investment in agriculture was the beginning of the decline. Withdrawal of bank credit at a time of soaring input prices and the crash in farm incomes compounded the problems. Privatization of many resources has also compounded the problems. The devastation lies in the big 5 States of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. These states accounted for two-thirds of all farm suicides during 2003-08.Some of the major factors responsible are indebtedness, crop failure and deterioration in economic status. Decline in social position, exorbitant charges by local money lenders for the vulnerable farmers, chronic illness in the family, addiction etc. have made life of farmers difficult.

9. Lower  Yield of Major Commodities: Yield of major crops and livestock in the region is much lower than that in the rest of the world.

There is a need to strengthen adaptive research and technology assessment, refinement and transfer capabilities of the country so that the existing wide technology transfer gaps are bridged. For this, an appropriate network of extension service needs to be created to stimulate and encourage both top-down and bottom-up flows of information between farmers, extension workers, and research scientists to promote the generation, adoption, and evaluation of location specific farm technologies. Ample scope exists for increasing genetic yield potential of a large number of vegetables, fruits as well as other food crops and livestock and fisheries products. Besides maintenance breeding, greater effort should be made towards developing hybrid varieties as well as varieties suitable for export purposes. Agronomic and soil researches in the region need to be intensified to address location specific problems as factor productivity growth is decelerating in major production regimes. Research on coarse grains, pulses and oilseeds must achieve a production breakthrough.

10. Integrated nutrient management: Attention should be given to balanced use of nutrients. Phosphorus deficiency is now the most widespread soil fertility problem in both irrigated and unirrigated areas.

To improve efficiency of fertilizer use, what is really needed is enhanced location-specific research on efficient fertilizer practices (such as balanced use of nutrients, correct timing and placement of fertilizers, and, wherever necessary, use of micronutrient and soil amendments), improvement in soil testing services, development of improved fertilizer supply and distribution systems, and development of physical and institutional infrastructure.

11. Exploiting Information Technology

 Information is power and will underpin future progress and prosperity. Efforts must be made to strengthen the informatics in agriculture by developing new databases, linking databases with international databases and adding value to information to facilitate decision making at various levels. Using the remote sensing and GIS technologies, natural and other agricultural resource should be mapped at micro and macro levels and effectively used for land and water use planning as well as agricultural forecasting, market intelligence and e-business, contingency planning and prediction of disease and pest incidences.

12. Disaster Management

The frequency and intensity of disasters such as floods, droughts, cyclones and  earthquakes have increased in the recent years. Special effort should be made to develop appropriate technologies for increasing preparedness to predict and to manage the disasters. Effective and reliable information and communication systems, contingency planning and national and international mobilization of technologies and resources are a must. Experiences of other countries in prevention and management of the disasters should be shared.

13.Emphasis on Rain-fed Ecosystem

 Resource-poor farmers in the rainfed ecosystems practice less-intensive agriculture, and since their incomes depend on local agriculture, they benefit little from increased food production in irrigated areas. To help them, efforts must be increased to disseminate available dry land technologies and to generate new ones.

12. Diversification of Agriculture and Value Addition

 In the face of shrinking natural resources and ever increasing demand for larger food and agricultural production arising due to high population and income growths, agricultural intensification is the main course of future growth of agriculture in the region. Research for product diversification should be yet another important area.

13. Post-Harvest Management, Value Addition and Cost-Effectiveness

Post-harvest losses generally range from 5 to 10 percent for non-perishables and about 30 percent for perishables. This loss could be and must be minimized. A grain saved is a grain produced. Emphasis should therefore be placed to develop post-harvest handling, agro-processing and value-addition technologies not only to prevent the high losses, but also to improve quality through proper storage, packaging, handling and transport. 


Tuesday, 26th Apr 2016, 11:00:43 AM

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