Evolution of Agriculture in India brings to light its history, that dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization. Agriculture in India has always been and still continues to be the backbone of Indian economy. A recent survey claimed that the agricultural sector is accountable for the employment of 50% of the workforce and contributes approximately to 27.4% of the gross domestic product.
The number still continues to grow as agriculture and allied activities now constitute the single largest contributor with more than 40% to the share. From a country dependent on imports to feed its population, it accounts for about 20% to the exports and is self-sufficient in grain production. While Indian agriculture grew at the rate of about 1 per cent yearly before Independence, a growth of around 2.6 per cent per year was observed in the post-Independence era.
The evolution of agriculture in India in the last four decades has been one of the biggest achievements of independent India. National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) was launched in 1982 for the promotion of agriculture, other rural industries and their development.
The late sixties and seventies were the highlights of ‘Green Revolution’. It was revolutionary because it had a massive impact on the Indian economy. Indian government aimed to not depend on any other country for food sufficiency and that required adoption of modern methods of farming such as the use of high yielding crops. This resulted in more than 30% yield per unit from 1947 to 1979 and established India as one of the biggest agricultural producers. Wheat production rose significantly in Punjab and Haryana. Punjab was thus, named as the Wheat basket of India. Rice production also increased by 79.6 million tonnes. The total grain production crossed 131 million tonnes.
This development and increase in agriculture in terms of production have been achieved by using a high yielding variety of seeds, bringing additional land for cultivation, improvement in irrigation facilities, implementation of better techniques evolved through agricultural research, water management and plant protection through the use of fertilizers and pesticides. Let us discuss the Evolution of Agriculture in India.
Changes in Cropping patterns
Changes in cropping pattern indicate the change in the proportion of area under different crops at a particular period of time. Before the economic planning in India, 76.7 per cent of the land was used for cultivation of food crops and 23.3 per cent on non-food or commercial crops. Areas under food crops were cut down to 65.83 per cent by 2001. At the same time, there was an increase in the percentage of areas under non-food crops which was 34.17%. This change in the allocation of the area from food crops to non-food crops highlights a change from subsistence agriculture- where the farm output is used for personal or local survival; to commercial agriculture- where cash crops are used for production purposes.
There was also a significant change in consumption pattern as people preferred non-cereals to cereals. This led to a gradual increase in areas under fruits, vegetables and oilseeds. Increasing urbanization
and changes in agricultural patterns are responsible for the changing consumer preferences.
Irrigation system and Mechanisation of inputs
Agricultural efficiency largely depends upon the techniques used and methods adopted. One such important input is the irrigation facilities. India with its doubling population, a certain proportion of lands are only available for cultivation. Hence, there is no possible scope of bringing extra land for cultivation and more output. To produce more from existing land, modern methods of production through better irrigation facilities were used. After land, water is the most essential in farming and agriculture. There are two main sources of irrigation: surface water and ground-water. Surface water is provided by the rivers, tanks, ponds, lakes etc. while the ground-water comes from tubewells, wells etc. These age-old systems were replaced by canal irrigation and well irrigation in 1950-51. Water-saving devices like sprinklers and methods of drip irrigation were also introduced. Electric irrigation pumps were introduced in around 1950 and have since been increased from 26 thousand in 1951 to 91 lakhs in 1991.
National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Area (NWDPRA), was implemented to focus on the development of integrated farming systems in watershed areas.
The implements and tools used by the Indian farmers were obsolete and not up to the mark which ceased the development of agriculture. In light of this, investments were made in new farm machinery to save time, reduce the cost of production and thereby increase agricultural production. These machinery spare human labour and perform various works of agriculture like ploughing and harvesting.
Mechanization of agriculture has definitely been an important step in the development of agriculture. The number of tractors provided to farmers increased to around 15 lakhs in 1990. In spite of this, the improvement in farm machinery use remained restricted to mainly north Indian states because of better and developed irrigation facilities.
The government launched a National Pulse Development Programme (NPDP) in 1985 to increase the production of pulses through integrated farming techniques.
Growth of Animal husbandry and Fisheries
There was no growth in milk production between 1947 and 1978 with a yearly growth of about 1%. To resolve the issue, Operation Flood Programme (OFP) was launched which resulted in a 4.5% growth in the production. In 1996-97, milk production increased up to the number of 69 million tonnes per annum.
Technology Mission on Dairy Development (TMDD, 1988) was also launched in order to accelerate the production further.
The state of fish production was also aimed to enhance and thus, Blue Revolution took place. It refers to the immense growth in aquaculture
that turned the production from 0.75 million in 1951 to 5.4 million in 1997 and established India as the second largest fish producing country in the world.
Improvements in Fertilizers and Pesticides
The fertilizer industry in India existing for the last 30 years and has also shown steady growth. The government realised the far-reaching impact of fertilisers for plant protection in the remote and hilly areas.
The consumption of chemical fertilizer during 1999-2000 increased up to 15 million tonnes. However, major steps were taken to ensure sufficient supply of non-chemical fertilisers at affordable costs. Evolution of Agriculture in India has been discussed in this blog.
The government implemented a national project for the maximum use of bio-fertilisers more than the chemical ones as they are cheaper in price and are more effective. The government aimed to popularize the use of organic sources of nutrients through this and also to push forward the biofertilizer production.
Nivshakti Bioenergy Pvt. Ltd
– is one of the best organic fertilizer manufacturers in India that provides a vast range of products that helps healthy plant growth and plant protection as well. Based in the north-east of India, we also deal with Plant Growth Regulators (PGR), agricultural enzymes and a range of micronutrients.