10 challenges faced by agriculture in India
Small and fragmented land holdings
The abundance of net sown area in India is divided into economically non-viable small and scattered land holdings. Our traditional inheritance laws are wholly responsible for the division of agricultural area into small fragment. The land belongs to father is equally distributed among his sons, and this process goes on like this. The distribution of land is not a consolidate one, but its nature is fragmented. Different holdings will have different features like its fertility, composition, texture and many other factors which determine the production of crop in that particular area. If there are four tracts which are to be distributed between two sons, each of them will get smaller plots of each land tract. In this way the holdings become smaller and more fragmented with each passing generation. Fragmentation of the land holdings will harm the productivity of the farm. Biggest problems arises out of the fragmentation of the land is that of irrigation. Providing irrigation to the fragmented land holding is difficult job. Moreover a lot of fertile land is wasted in providing boundaries. This problem of Indian agriculture could only be eradicate by enacting the consolidation of Holdings, which means the relocation of the fragmented land and creation of the farms. But unfortunately this didn't get much success. Although the legislation for consolidation of holdings has been enacted by almost all state, but it has been implemented only in Punjab, Haryana and in some parts of Uttar Pradesh. Cooperative farming is one of the other solution of this problem in which farmers pool their resources and share the profit.
Manures, Fertilizers and Biocides
Agriculture is a very ancient practice of India and Indian soils have been used for growing crops over thousands of years without caring much for its replenishment. This led to exhaustion and depletion of the soil resulting in the poor productivity. The average yields of almost all the crop is lowest in the world. This problem presents the need of the fertilizers and manures for the land. Like nutrition is necessary for the development of human body, similarly well nourished soil is important for good yields. It is estimated that 70 % of growth in agricultural production can be credited to increased fertilizer application. However there many practical problems in facilitating the use of fertilizers in Indian agriculture. Chemical fertilizers are costly and can not be afforded by the poor peasants. Cow dung provides best manure for the soil, but its use is limited, as much of the cow dung is used as kitchen fuel because of the shortage of fuel. Hence the fertilizer problem is acute and complex in India. Organic manures are essential for keeping the good health of the soil. At present India has a potential of producing 650 million tones of rural and 160 lakh tones of urban compost, but this reserve is not fully utilized. A proper waste management system will be a good option to utilize this compost. Government is providing subsidies on the chemical fertilizers, which is very helpful for poor peasants. At the time of independence,there was practically no use of chemical fertilizers, but due to government's effort the consumption of fertilizers increased tremendously. The quality of fertilizers is controlled by the 52 fertilizer quality control laboratories established in different parts of the country. In addition, there is one Central Fertilizer Quality control and training institute at Faridabad with its regional centres at Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
Shortage of good quality seeds for poor peasants
Problem of Irrigation
We all know that Indian agriculture is dependent on monsoon, which is uncertain, unreliable and erratic. This problem provides the need for proper irrigation system. Although India is second largest irrigated country in the world after China, only one-third of the cropped area is under irrigation. India will have to do much for the advancement of irrigation system. Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh set a good example, as their half of the cropped area is under irrigation. However a watch should be employed on irrigation, because excess of it makes the land useless.
Lack of mechanization
In spite of the advancement in agriculture, most of the farmers are using the conventional tools for ploughing, sowing, irrigating, thinning and harvesting. Marginal and small farmers are using much of the human labour, which results in the wastage of human labour and in low yields per capita labour force. However some progress has been made in this direction after independence. Green revolution which started in 1966-67, made some impact on the technology used in the agriculture. A large industrial base has been set up for manufacturing of the agriculture machines. Successful efforts are made by the government to encourage the farmers to adopt technically advanced agricultural equipments in order make agriculture prosperous in India.
Soil erosion is one of the much concerning problem of Indian agriculture. It is the greatest evil to Indian agriculture. Soil is the most precious asset, its productivity ensure good crop yields. But soil erosion cause huge loss to the productivity of the soil. There are many agents of soil erosion like water, wind, animals, etc. Water is the most important and influencing agent in the process of erosion. Water wash away the top most layer of fertile soil and hence cause loss to the fertility of soil. This could be prevented using suitable methods like afforestation, checking overgrazing, constructing small dams, changing agriculture practices like crop rotation, strip cropping, contour ploughing, terracing, etc.
Agriculture marketing is still a huge concern in the rural areas. In the absence of proper marketing facilities, the farmers are dependent on local traders and middlemen for the disposal of their agriculture produce which is sold at throw away price. In small villages farmers sell their produce to the money lender under socio-economic conditions. According to an estimate 85% of wheat and 75% of oil seeds in Uttar Pradesh, 90% of jute in west Bengal, 70% of oil seeds and 35% of cotton in punjab is sold by farmers in village itself. Many market surveys have revealed that middlemen take away about 47% of the price of rice, 52% of the price of groundnut and 60% of the price of potatoes. Regulated market by government are helpful for the farmers. These markets introduce a system of competitive buying, which help in eradicating malpractices.
Inadequate storage facilities
Poor storage facilities in rural areas proves disastrous to the village farmers. They are compelled to sell their produce immediately after the harvest at the prevailing low market prices. The Parse Committee estimated that that post harvest losses at 9.3% of which nearly 6.6 % occurred due to poor storage conditions alone. This present the need if proper storage facilities. At present there are number of agencies engaged in warehousing and storage activities. The Food Corporation of India, the Central Warehousing Corporation and State Warehousing Corporation are among the principal agencies engaged in this task.
Lack of cheap and efficient means of transportation is one of the major challenge faced by agriculture sector of India. Even at present much of the villages are not well connected by the roads. Availability of the market is most important for the growth of agriculture, but absence of roads takes away market from farmers. Most of roads are kutcha which gets useless in rainy season. Linking each village by metalled road is a gigantic task it needs determination and huge sum of money to complete this task.
Scarcity of capital
The role of capital is becoming more and more important with the advancement in the agricultural technology. Since agriculturists' capital is locked up in the land of the farmers, he is bound to borrow money. The main suppliers of money to farmers are the money lenders, traders and commission agents who charges high rate of interest and purchase the agricultural produce of farmers at very low price.