INDIAN AGRICULTURE SYSTEM
Agriculture sector is changing the social-economic environments of population due to liberalization and globalization. About 75% people are living in rural areas and are still dependent on Agriculture. About 43% of India’s geographical area is used for agricultural activity. There was a time when small plots of land, cultivated by individual farmers who followed age-old methods, summed up the position of Indian agricultural system. India in recent times has brought about a Green Revolution, resulting not only in self-sufficiency but also surplus production of food. India has now a huge buffer stock of foodstuffs and she is in a position to export food grains.
It provides about 65% of the livelihood, accounts for 27% of GDP, contributes 21% of Total Exports, and Supplies Raw materials to Industries, growth Rate in production – 5.7%, food grains production – 211.17 m. There are some technologies that are used for Sustainable Agriculture Development. They are: Biotechnology, Pre & post harvesting technology, Energy saving technology, Environment protection technology, Information and Communication technology, GIS & RS technology, Internet/Intranet Technology.
Irrigation in India refers to the supply of water from Indian rivers, tanks, wells, canals and other artificial projects for the purpose of cultivation and agricultural activities. In country such as India, 64% of cultivated land is dependent on monsoons. The economic significance of irrigation in India is namely, to reduce over dependence on monsoons, advanced agricultural productivity, bringing more land under cultivation, reducing instability in output levels, creation of job opportunities, electricity and transport facilities, control of floods and prevention of droughts.
The critical issues that plague Indian agriculture at present are the knowledge deficit and infrastructure deficit, especially in the rural areas. Problems related to irrigation infrastructure, market infrastructure and transport infrastructure add significant cost to farmers’ operations. Another issue is lack of delivery mechanisms. There are a number of schemes aimed towards developing agriculture. We don’t have effective delivery mechanisms that can translate those into effective facilitation at the ground level, in terms of increasing productivity or decreasing cost or increasing price realization. Inadequate government support exacerbates these issues.
Government failure is a major concern in agriculture because the high risks involved make help and facilitation necessary. Like any other business enterprise, agriculture is subjected to high risks because of the volatile nature of the factors involved. For instance, weather is often a problem – you have droughts in one year and heavy rains in the next. In both cases, farmers lose out, hence they have to look for a normal period to make money. Government, therefore, has to play a major role in providing support to farmers. This is true all over the world and there is hardly any country where government intervention is not present. There may of course be variations in the extent of intervention; but if you check the situation in most countries or regions, including developed ones like the US, Canada and the European Union, you see substantial intervention by the government. Thus government facilitation is essential for sound agricultural development.
Irrigation in India can be broadly classified into two parts: the surface irrigation part and the ground water part. The issues related to each of these are completely different. As far as surface irrigation is concerned, there are a few major problems. One is the system management itself. We do not effectively manage water bodies, in terms of how much water is stored, how much is being used for irrigation, or what value we can add to this water. This is partly because it is seen more of an engineering kind of work rather than looking holistically that its main purpose is irrigation. We, therefore, do not have the mindset to make the best use of water for irrigation purposes. Consequently, water use efficiency is very poor in India and remains a major concern. According to many estimates, the extent of area irrigated compared to the capacity built is very low, averaging about 40%. We have problems like water logging at the head part of the water bodies and deficit at the tail-ends. Big dams have their own problems like rehabilitation of people, ecological concerns and whether they adequately serve their purpose. So these are issues with respect to surface irrigation.
If you look at groundwater, the major issue is equity. Those who have better abilities to extract water take away disproportionately from groundwater aquifiers. This gives rise to various problems. One is that if groundwater is closer to the coastal area, groundwater may get mixed with salt which affects everybody and is a negative externality. In many other places, groundwater level goes down drastically and often the wells go dry, making it difficult to get even drinking water. So we have dual problems related to availability of drinking water as well as access of groundwater to the poor.
Agriculture continues to play a major role in Indian Economy.