Agriculture in India and its silent features

 India is pre-eminently an agricultural country. About 70 % of the working force of India drives its livelihood by practising agriculture. It plays a vital role in the economy of India. Till 1971, about 80 % of the Indian population lived in rural areas and depended directly or indirectly on agriculture. It contributed 45 per cent of Gross Domestic Production (GDP) at that time. However, now the importance of agriculture in India has greatly reduced due to the rapid development in the other sectors like mining, manufacturing, transport and trade. Urbanisation is one of the contributing factor in the reduced popularity of agriculture. It is often said that India has an agrarian economy. But statistics tells different story, today agriculture and allied sectors contribute nearly 25 % of GDP, while about 65-70 % of the population is dependent on agriculture for their livelihood, and it still forms the hub of India's economy.

 Agriculture provides raw material to many key industries, like sugarcane, cotton, jute and oil seeds. Despite record foodgrain production during the course of the past few years, the share of agriculture and allied sectors to India's gross domestic product (GDP) has declined by more than 4.5% between 2004-05 and 2010-11. Agriculture & Allied sectors which used to contribute 19 per cent of GDP in 2004-05 has come down to 14 per cent in 2011-12 at 2004-05 prices, according to government data. This decline is on account of comparatively higher growth in GDP of non-agriculture sectors, official sources said. But the capital investment in the agriculture sector has shown improvement, As per official figures, Gross Capital Formation (GCF) investment in agriculture sector (at 2004-05 prices) has increased from Rs 69,148 crore in 2004-05 to Rs 1,30,907 crore in 2010-11. Foodgrain production has also shown an increase from 217.28 million tonnes in 2006-07 to 257.44 million tonnes in 2011-12, it said.  So despite all the odds Indian agriculture is developing, but the other sectors have shown more development than the agriculture.

India provides many favorable features for the development of agriculture. Huge northern plain of India, which is considered as one of the most fertile land in  the world, rich soils, high percentage of the cultivable land, wide climatic variety, which facilitates the growth of wide variety of  crops, adequate aggregate rainfall due to monsoon combined with sufficient temperature, ample sunshine and  long growing season provides solid base to agriculture in India.

Rapid growth in the  agriculture sector is credited to the advancement in the technology. New equipments like tractors, harvesters, threshers, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, etc have contributed a lot in the development of the agriculture in India. The sudden boom in the production of food grain in 1967-68 (25 % higher than that of 1966-67 ) was possible due to the Green Revolution. Moreover, income generated in the agriculture sector creates ready market for various manufactured goods. Thus agriculture acts as a supplier of raw materials to the industries and as a consumer of the industrial products. It is evident that the prosperity of industrial sector largely depends upon agricultural prosperity. In fact, prosperity of entire nation depends upon the prosperity of agriculture sector of that country.

Indian agriculture has its own peculiarities. Some of the features of the Indian agriculture are mentioned as follows:-  

Pressure of the population on Agriculture

More is the population, more will be the demand of food. India is the second most populated country of the world and it is increasing with the rapid pace and exerts heavy pressure on agriculture. Agriculture has to provide employment to a large section of the  work force and has to feed the teeming millions.

Importance of the Animals

Animals force has always played a significant role in agricultural occupations like ploughing, irrigation, threshing, and transport of the agriculture products. However, the advancement in the agriculture technologies has significant reduced the importance of the animals but still the role of the animals in the Indian agriculture can not be ignored.

Dependent upon Monsoon

Indian agriculture is mainly dependent upon monsoon which is uncertain, unreliable and irregular.  In spite of all the development in the irrigation system since independence, only one third of the cropped area is provided by perennial irrigation and remaining two third of the cropped area has to bear the brunt of the vagaries of the monsoon.

Subsistence type of farming

Most part of the India have subsistence agriculture. The farmer owns a small piece of land, grows crops in it with the help of his family members and consumes almost the entire farm produce with little left with them to sell in the market. This type of agriculture has been practiced in India for the last several decades and still prevails in spite of the large scale changes in agriculture practices after independence.

Variety in the crops  

Variety is the soul of India. Varieties in its relief, climate and soil composition produces the variety in the crops. Both the temperate and tropical crops are successfully grown in India. Very few countries   in the world have a variety of crops comparable to that of India.

Predominance of food crops

Since Indian agriculture has to feed a large population, production of food crops is the first priority of the farmers almost everywhere in the country. More that two third of the total cropped area is devoted to the cultivation of food crops. However, with the change in the cropping pattern, the relative share of food crops came down from 76.7 % in 1950-51 to 58.8 % in 2002-03.

Seasonal pattern

India has three major crop seasons:-

Kharif season starts with the onset of the monsoon and continues till beginning of the winter. Major crops of this season are rice, maize, jowar, bajra, cotton, sesamum,  groundnut and pulses such as moong and urad.
Rabi season starts at the beginning of  the winters and continues till  the end of the of winter or the beginning of the summer. Major crops of this season are wheat, barley, jowar, gram, and oil seeds such as linseed, rape, and mustard.
Zaid is summer cropping season in which crops like rice, maize, groundnut, vegetables and fruits are grown.

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