Understanding Indian Agriculture


Presently, unsustainable Indian Agriculture is at crossroads. Agriculture employs more than 50 per cent of the total workforce in India and contributes around 17-18 percent to the country's GDP implying that productivity in Agriculture is relatively only one-third of average in terms of GDP contribution. Briefly we summarize this interrelated relevant situation in the following figure:


Seventy percentage of voting population in rural areas is connected to Agriculture and influences the governance pattern of India in democratic voting process and thereby assumes paramount importance in Indian politics. Indebtedness is still another important aspect. Un-remuneration prices and a combination of higher input costs force farmers into indebtedness . Indebtedness of farmers has four major consequences: 1) Farmers themselves suffer misery; 2) unbearable fiscal pressure on Government revenues for loan waivers and undesirable consequences of fiscal deficits; 3) credit growth of banks and 4) stress on banking system by increasing non-performing assets. The present situation is alarming; 52% of Indian farm household are in debt . Though Indian Agriculture is plagued with the interrelated problems of Poverty, Gender Inequality, Water Scarcity & Environmental Pollution; a start on solution will be taken up with increasing Farmer's income and more secure arrangement of selling their farm produce.

The glut of food from the harvest time is a negative aspect of Indian Agriculture. Food crops are usually harvested once in a year; however food is eaten throughout the year. Most of the food is perishablewhich if not stored in cold conditions will become unhealthy and injurious to health and unpleasant to eat for consumers. This creates the need for either food processing which changes its taste or cold storage under appropriate conditions for it to retain most of the farm fresh taste, nutritional quality and free from microbial contamination. Modern supply chain management aims at preserving most of the above attributes of farm fresh food, reducing transit damage and minimising food wastage.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), about one-third ofglobal food production (around 30 to 40%) is lost or wasted annually3 which in replacement cost is well worthseveral thousands of crores of Rupees (billion of USD) and may take a couple of decades and huge investmentto produce.The food wastage also impacts global warming by rotting: CO2 in aerobic rotting and CH4 in anaerobicrotting. Food waste or losses have an impact on climate change, because resources such as water, fertilizers,pesticides, seeds, energy, and labour are used to produce this food that is not used. It has an impact on theproduction of greenhouse gas emissions and consequently on climate change. In developing countries, foodlosses during harvest and storage reduce the income of small farmers and result in a higher price for poorconsumers who cannot afford to pay for the food. Reducing food losses can therefore have an impact onimproving the livelihoods and food security of small farmers and poor consumers.