The agricultural sector employs more than half of the labour force in developing countries and contributed 18% to country’s GDP. Monsoon has a great influence on how well India’s agriculture goes. India ranks first in the world with the highest net cropped area, followed by the United States and China. This sector is vital for employment, production and consumption and play a critical role in lifting people out of poverty. The economic contribution of agriculture to GDP in India is declining. Despite this, agriculture is still the broadest economic sector and it plays a significant role in the overall socio-economic fabric of India.
India has made progress towards food security in the years since its independence. There has been a substantial increase in available food-grain per capita. There are various agricultural problems that are faced by India in which some are natural while others are man made.
Land Holdings Pattern
The overall ownership of agricultural land in India is fairly widely distributed, with some degree of concentration. The unequal distribution of land in India is due to the fact that there are frequent changes in ownership. The large tracts of land are owned by a relatively small section of rich farmers, landlords and money-lenders, while the vast majority of farmers own very little or no land. In 1970-71, it had reported that India had 71 million landowners. These have more than doubled now to 146 million. Over 86% of the land is held by small and marginal farmers who own less than two hectares, while only 0.57% of the land is held by those who own 10 hectares or more.
Farmers struggling due to the fragmentation of this market are unable to generate enough surplus for the money needed to improve productivity. The small and fragmented holdings is more serious issue in densely populated states like Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar and eastern part of Uttar Pradesh. States with a high percentage of net sown area, like Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, have holding size above the national average.
The consolidation of holdings which means the reallocation of holdings which are fragmented, the creation of farms which comprise only one or a few parcels in place of multitude of patches formerly in the possession of each peasant are some of the solutions that can be applied to solve this critical problem.
There are two large categories for Indian crops: food crops and non-food crops. The former includes crops grown for their edible parts, sugarcane, other fruits and vegetables while the latter includes the fibers and seeds of different kinds of plants.
As the prices of cash crops are expensive, more and more land is being diverted from producing food crops to producing lucrative cash or commercial crops. This is creating a food crisis in the country.
Lack of mechanisation
Indian farmers still use primitive methods of cultivation. They continue to use ploughs and other traditional farming tools. India’s mechanization level varies regionally. India has about 40-45 percent of mechanization. States such as Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Punjab have very high levels of mechanization. North-eastern states have negligible mechanization levels. The mechanising small and non-contiguous group of small farms is a threat to economies of scale.
Indian farmers have a hard time finding good quality seeds to grow crops. Seed availability is vital in ensuring the growth of India’s agriculture sector. It’s estimated that direct contribution of good quality seed alone to total production is 15-20% depending on the crop. The good quality seeds are out of the reach of majority of the farmers, mainly small and marginal ones due to the high cost of hybrid as well as genetically modified seeds, high fertilizer and irrigation requirement and requirement of special environment.
The Government of India established the National Seeds Corporation (NSC) in 1963 and the State Farmers Corporation of India (SFCI) in 1969. Thirteen State Seed Corporations (SSCs) were also established to help with the supply of improved seeds to farmers.
Manures and Fertilizers
Over the years, Indian soils have been used for growing crops without replenishing them. This has led to depletion and exhaustion of soils, leading to low productivity. This critical problem can be solved by using more manures and fertilizers. If a country’s agricultural activity is growing, their demand for fertilizers will go up. India’s population is largely made up of poor peasants, who aren’t able to provide enough manures and fertilizers for all parts of the country. Farmers have a hard time getting their hands on chemical fertilizers. They’re too expensive for the farmers and often beyond reach for the poor farmers.
The government has given incentives for people to use chemicals. For instance, they offer heavy subsidies in the form of low-interest loans. Pesticides and herbicides are used to save crops. They are also used to avoid wastage. Pesticides and herbicides have saved a lot of discarded food crops from going to waste. But indiscriminate use of biocides has resulted in wide-spread environmental pollution which is taking its toll on the environment, animals and humans.
Irrigation is important in many ways. It is the most important agricultural input in a country like India where rainfall is uncertain and unreliable. Furthermore, ordinary varieties of seed can be replaced by better varieties if there is an assured supply of water. Very few of our farmers have yet been able to use the opportunities that we have developed with irrigation.
Irrigation projects have increased the average proportion of irrigated land to total cropland from under 20% in 1951-52 to about 53% in 1998-99. Although the increase in production has been substantial, lack of assured and controlled water supply is likely to prevent the agricultural productivity from increasing further.
Inadequate storage facilities
Storage in agriculture is the act of keeping farm produce safe after harvest before taking it to the market for sale or processing. Nearly 6.6 per cent of the post-harvest losses occurred due to poor storage conditions, while nearly 9.3 per cent of the total post-harvest losses was due to poor storage conditions and other factors such as pests and diseases. Scientific storage is essential to avoid losses and benefit consumers and producers alike.
Warehousing and Storage is a number of tasks primarily done by agencies. The Food Corporation of India, Central Warehousing Corporation, and State Warehousing Corporation are among the main agencies.
Lack of transportation facilities
Agriculture commodities can go through a series of operations such as harvesting, threshing, winnowing, bagging, transportation, storage, processing and exchange before they reach the market. In the absence of marketing, farmers must rely on local merchants for their farm goods. These goods are sold at a discount price.
In order to survive, the poor farmer is forced to accept any price offered, even if it’s too low. This situation arises due to the inability of poor farmers to wait for long after harvesting their crops.
Absence of Crop Rotation
Crop rotation is the process of planting different crops on a particular piece of land over time. The succession of crops to be grown is carefully designed to ensure soil nutrients are sustained, pest populations are controlled, weeds are suppressed and soil health is built. Rotating crops is a very important technique for maintaining crop fertility. If a plot of land is continuously used for cereals, the soil fertility decreases. However, if pulses, vegetables etc. are grown there, the fertility of the soil can be restored to its original state.
More than half of India’s agricultural households are in debt, according to the latest ‘Situation Assessment of Agricultural Households and Land Holdings of Households in Rural India, 2019’ released September 10, 2021. Farmers in India have difficulty making ends meet, as crop failure and low income from crops are compounded by the use of high rates of interest, manipulation and use of loan accounts by lenders. The debt passes through generations. Thus the debt of farmers gradually increases leading to the problem of rural indebtedness in our country.
Agricultural marketing problems arose due to the lack of communications between the producing centers and urban areas which are the main centers of consumption. Some farmers are forced to sell their produce on the economic market when they do not have enough to feed their families. The Rural Credit Survey Report found that farmers often sell their produce at an unfavorable place and at an unfavorable time and usually they get unfavorably priced.
Drought is one of the most pressing issues for India’s agriculture. Droughts occur when there is less rainfall than normal, which makes it hard for farmers to grow crops. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, farmers often have to spend a lot of money on crop insurance, which is often not available or unaffordable in India. India’s farmers have faced problems due to drought for a long time, and have been forced to turn away from traditional crops in search of more viable options.