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Problems in Agriculture

Problems in Agriculture

Slow agricultural growth is a concern for policymakers as some two-thirds of India's people depend on rural employment for a living. Current agricultural practices are neither economically nor environmentally sustainable and India's yields for many agricultural commodities are low. Poorly maintained irrigation systems and almost universal lack of good extension services are among the factors responsible. Farmers' access to markets is hampered by poor roads, rudimentary market infrastructure, and excessive regulation.

-World Bank: "India Country Overview 2008"

The low productivity in India is a result of the following factors:

  • According to World Bank, Indian Branch: Priorities for Agriculture and Rural Development", India's large agricultural subsidies are hampering productivity-enhancing investment. Overregulation of agriculture has increased costs, price risks and uncertainty. Government intervenes in labour, land, and credit markets. India has inadequate infrastructure and services. World Bank also says that the allocation of water is inefficient, unsustainable and inequitable. The irrigation infrastructure is deteriorating. The overuse of water is currently being covered by over pumping aquifers, but as these are falling by foot of groundwater each year, this is a limited resource.
  • Illiteracy, general socio-economic backwardness, slow progress in implementing land reforms and inadequate or inefficient finance and marketing services for farm produce.
  • Inconsistent government policy. Agricultural subsidies and taxes often changed without notice for short term political ends.
  • The average size of land holdings is very small (less than 20,000 m²) and is subject to fragmentation due to land ceiling acts, and in some cases, family disputes. Such small holdings are often over-manned, resulting in disguised unemployment and low productivity of labour.
  • Adoption of modern agricultural practices and use of technology is inadequate, hampered by ignorance of such practices, high costs and impracticality in the case of small land holdings.
  • Irrigation facilities are inadequate, as revealed by the fact that only 52.6% of the land was irrigated in 2003-04  which result in farmers still being dependent on rainfall, specifically the Monsoon season. A good monsoon results in a robust growth for the economy as a whole, while a poor monsoon leads to a sluggish growth. Farm credit is regulated by NABARD which is the statutory apex agent for rural development in the subcontinent. At the same time overpumping made possible by subsidized electric power is leading to an alarming drop in aquifer levels.

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Problems in Agriculture

Dear Harish,

Dwindling water table is a major concern and so is failing soil health. But most important issue is of the produce prices. This year has seen a steep rise in fertilizer prices yet  the  rates for paddy were almost Rs.200/- per quintal lower than last year. Some important crops like Potato and Onions do not have an  MSP. People in India are farmers by default and not by choice. Farming on a farm of one acre size, worth Rs. 5.00 lac would yield just Rs.30,000/- per acre per year. This is why many people around towns have sold their high value land and have invested in house and shops. The trend needs to be arrested and corrected. Unless the farming is made more lucrative, exodus to cities would continue. 

Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.