The general perception about Indian agriculture is that it is a primitive, backward and crisis-prone sector. The agriculture sector, when compared to the industry sector in terms of output and share in the economy, is seen as a major drag on the growth of the country. However, the truth is just the opposite. Indian agriculture in the present time is structurally different and more robust as compared to the Green Revolution even, writes Rajju Shroff, executive chairman and founder of the crop protection chemicals company UPL in a column in The Indian Express. Here are the edited excerpts from his column:
This comes at a time when there is much comparison between agriculture and industrial sectors. In 2014, India ranked second in agricultural output (after China), with an eight percent global share. In the much-hyped services sector, India’s rank was 11th with a two percent share of the global pie. It was worse in manufacturing, where India’s global rank is 12th. Agriculture has emerged as the largest private sector, employing over half of its total workforce, whereas services and manufacturing are the real laggards.
A comparison between the early 1970s to nineties and then 2014 shows a clear difference. Earlier in the early 1970s to late nineties, India’s annual farm gross domestic product (GDP) expanded from about $25 billion to over $100 billion, being largely cereals centric, limited to wheat and rice. However, between 2000 and 2014, the country’s agricultural production has surged from $101 billion to $367 billion, driven mainly by high-value segments such as horticulture, dairy, poultry and inland fisheries. Secondly, no other country grows as many food and non-food crops as India. Thirdly, the small-sized family farms practice a unique kind of mixed agri-horti-livestock farming where farmers double up as milk producers, goat rearers, poultry keepers or even aqua-culturists. As a result, India has become a global leader in agriculture with high-yielding seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, farm equipment and other modern inputs for our farmers, and improved roads and communication systems.
In India, most of the farms fall in the marginal or small category with size below two hectares. But, these small farms have evolved through self-engineered innovation into producing a variety of produce. Crop cultivation and livestock co-exist in these farms ensuring year round economic activity. In fact, the aggregate agricultural output per unit area per year in India is among the highest in the world.
India follows a mixed crop-livestock farming model of sustainable agriculture. This unique, low cost and diverse farming system globally will help position India as an agriculturally vibrant economy in days to come, according to the author.