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Date : Nov 11, 2021

Description :

Based on an News Article published in the ‘The Hindu’ on 11th November  2021 on Page Number 1


Useful for UPSC CSE Prelims and Mains (GS Paper III)


Prelims Hot-Link:


  • About Indian Agricultural Sector à Its major features.
  • Potential of Agriculture Sector
  • Challenges faced by the sector
  • Government Initiatives in the Agriculture Sector


About Agriculture:


  • Agriculture is made up of two words –‘Ager’ + ‘culture’. ‘Ager’ means soil and ‘culture’ means cultivation.
  • Agriculture is defined as the art, science and business of producing crops and livestock for economic purpose.
  • Livestock, fisheries poultry comes under the allied agricultural activities.


Importance of Agriculture in India:


  • Two third of the livelihood of the Indian population is directly or indirectly dependent on Agriculture.
  • 55% of the labour force is directly or indirectly involved in Agriculture.
  • Agricultural sector accounts for 15% of the export earnings and 14%-17% of India’s GDP.
  • Agricultural sector provides raw material for various industries such as textiles, sugar, flour mills, Jute, Apparel etc.
  • Flourishing Agricultural production in India is the main factor behind the food security of the large Indian population.


Salient Features of Agriculture in India:


  • Subsistence agriculture: 
  • The type of agriculture in India is mostly Subsistence agriculture.
  • In Subsistence agriculture the agricultural produce is for self-consumption only, there is no surplus production to sell in the market.


  • Commercial agriculture: 
  • Large-scale commercial agriculture is also practiced in India, such as tea plantation in Assam, coffee in Karnataka, coconut in Kerala, etc.
  • Commercial Agriculture is the agricultural practice where large agricultural produce is sold in the market by the firms for making profits.
  • Since the land resource in India is limited the pressure of increasing population on agriculture is increasing day by day.


  • Mechanization: 
  • After Green Revolution, there has been an increasing trend in the use of machines in farm operations.
  • This has led to the mechanization of Indian agriculture. Punjab, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh, River valleys of Andhra, and Tamil Nadu are major agriculturally mechanized areas in India.


  • Monsoon dependent: 
  • Due to lack of irrigation facilities Two-third of Indian agriculture is dependent on monsoon rains.
  • Variety of crops: 
  • Due to the presence of different types of topography, diverse soil (like alluvial, red, black cotton soil, etc), and different types of climate, India is blessed with the production of different varieties of crops in different regions.
  • For eg., hilly areas are suitable for tea cultivation, plains for rice cultivation


  • Predominance of food crops: 
  • In order to feed a large population and predominance of subsistence agriculture, food crops are mainly grown in order to keep with the food security demands of the huge Indian population.
  • There are basically three cropping seasonal patterns in India namely Kharif, Rabi, and Zaid.


Cropping Seasons in India:

  • There are three distinct crop seasons in the northern and interior parts of the country, namely Kharif, rabi, and Zaid.
  • The Kharif season: The crops which are grown in the Kharif season require a good amount of water, thus the sowing of Kharif crops largely coincides with the onset of the Southwest Monsoon.
  • The Rabi season: The sowing of rabi crops begins with the onset of winter in October- November and the harvesting is done in March-April. The celebration of the festival Holi can be related to a good harvest in the month of March- April.


The Zaid season: It is a short duration summer cropping season beginning after harvesting of rabi crops, the cultivation of watermelons, cucumbers, vegetables, and fodder crops during this season is done on irrigated lands.


Issues faced by the agriculture sector:


  • Despite record production of certain major agricultural produce and rise in exports, India’s farm sector faces some underlying challenges such as low crop yield, monsoon dependency, low share of exports in global markets, lag in farm mechanisation, burden of loans and farmer suicides.
  • All this puts a load on the already struggling industry, limiting its growth.
  • Low crop yields:
  • India has reported a record food-grain production of an estimated 296.65 million tonnes in 2019-20.
  • Production of food-grains has seen a rise over the last few years with India being the largest producer of pulses and the third largest producer of cereals in the world. 
  • Likewise, yield of food-grains has increased as well; however, it lags when compared with other agrarian economies.
  • Yield or agriculture output is measured as the yield of a crop per unit area of land cultivation.
  • For instance, India accounted for 24 percent of the world pulses production in 2017, according to the government’s Agricultural Statistics 2019 report.
  • While in terms of yield (664 kg/hectare) it was lowest among the top 10 countries, well below the global average (1009 kg/hectare).
  • The case is the same for other crops as well.
  • India, despite being the second-largest producer of paddy and wheat after China, reports low yield compared to other countries and below the world average.


  • Dependence on monsoon:
  • Reliance on seasonal rainfall hampers productivity.
  • Additionally, change in climatic conditions and erratic weather patterns such as cyclones and droughts can impact yields of agricultural crops.
  • The growth of India’s agriculture sector has been dependent on monsoons, and as a result, it has been volatile.

The government is now encouraging micro-irrigation to improve water usage/efficiency.


  • Low share in global markets:
  • Another positive development amidst the pandemic for the sector has been an uptick in exports of agriculture commodities between March and September.
  • Overall, while India has emerged as an agri-exporter nation with regards to crops such as rice, spices, tea, sugar etc., the share of India’s agricultural exports in world trade remains low (2.15 percent in 2018), according to the ministry of agriculture’s annual report 2019-20.
  • The share of agri-exports to the country’s total merchandise exports needs to improve as well. It has remained in the range of 12 percent on an average over the last five years, falling to 11.9 percent in 2018-19, from a high of 20.33 percent in 1996-97.
  • Indebtedness and farmer suicides:
  • The average monthly income of an Indian agriculture household was estimated at Rs 6,426, with a wide-spread disparity across states, ranging from Rs 18,059 in Punjab to Rs 3,558 in Bihar, according to Agricultural Statistics 2019, based on the Assessment Survey of Agricultural Households (January-December 2013).
  • About 52 percent of agricultural households in India are indebted.
  • Nearly 64 percent of the marginal farmers (holding land less than one hectare) or agricultural households are indebted, followed by small (1 to 2 hectares) agricultural households (18 percent).
  • As many as 10,281 suicides were reported in the farming sector in 2019, of which 58 percent or 5,957 were farmers/cultivators and 4,324 were agricultural
  • Over 86 percent of agricultural land-holdings belong to the marginal and small farmers, according to the Agriculture Census 2015-16.
  • Large farmers who hold more than 10 hectares of land constitute


Major Government Initiatives to enhance agricultural productivity and efficiency of agricultural markets:


  • Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan (PMAASHA): PM-AASHA was launched in 2018 with 3 components i.e. Price Support Scheme (PSS), Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS) and Private Procurement & Stockist Scheme (PDPS).


  • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY)- Per Drop More Crop: PMKSY launched with focus on enhancing water use efficiency through expansion of cultivable area under assured irrigation, improve on-farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage of water, enhance the adoption of precision-irrigation and other water saving technologies, enhance recharge of aquifers and introduce sustainable water conservation practices.


  • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY): PMFBY was introduced to provide better insurance coverage for agricultural crops and thereby mitigate risk.
  • Soil Health Card scheme: It aims to assist State Governments to issue soil health cards to all farmers in the country. Soil health cards provides farmers information on the nutrient status of their soil along with recommendation on appropriate dosage of nutrients to be used for their soil conditions.
  • E-NAM: National Agriculture Market (eNAM) is a pan-India electronic trading portal which networks the existing APMC mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities.
  • Micro Irrigation Fund (MIF): The fund has been set up under NABARD, which will provide this amount to states on concessional rate of interest to promote micro-irrigation.

Major Government Initiatives to enhance agricultural productivity and efficiency of agricultural markets:

  • National Mission For Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA): National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) has been formulated for enhancing agricultural productivity especially in rainfed areas focusing on integrated farming, water use efficiency, soil health management and synergizing resource conservation.
  • Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY): PKVY is an initiative to promote organic farming in the country. According to the scheme, farmers will be encouraged to form groups or clusters and take to organic farming methods over large areas in the country.


  • Livestock insurance Scheme: This scheme aims to provide protection mechanisms to the farmers and cattle rearers against any eventual loss of their animals due to death with the ultimate goal of attaining qualitative improvement in livestock and their products.
  • National Scheme on Welfare of Fishermen: This scheme was launched to provide financial assistance to fishers for construction of house, community hall for recreation and common working place.


Way Forward to enhance agricultural productivity and efficiency of agricultural markets:


  • Irrigation Facilities: Canals, tube wells should be constructed to provide better irrigation facilities for the security of crops. Extensive flood control measures should be adopted to prevent the devastation caused by floods.


  • Institutional Credit: To save the farmers from the clutches of moneylenders, adequate credit facilities should be made available at reasonable cheap rates in rural areas. The land mortgage banks and co-operative credit societies should be strengthened to provide loans to the cultivators.


  • Proper Marketing Facilities: Marketing infrastructure should be widened and strengthened to help the farmers to sell their products at better prices.


  • Supply of Quality Input: The farmer in the country should be supplied with quality inputs at proper times and at controlled prices. To protect the farmer’s exploitation, effective steps are needed to be taken to check the sale of adulterated fertilizers as aimed in Pesticide bill, 2020.


  • Consolidation of Holdings: In various states consolidation of holdings is not satisfactory. Therefore, efforts should be made towards completing the consolidation work in the specific period of time. Big areas of land which are lying waste, can be reclaimed and made fit for cultivation.


  • Development of Cottage and Small Scale Industries: In rural areas, more emphasis should be made to set up cottage and small scale industries. This will raise the income of the peasants and keep them busy during the off season.


  • Land Reforms: It is also suggested that efforts should be made to plug the loopholes in the existing land legislations so that the surplus land may be distributed among the small and marginal farmers.

Tags : hindu editorial analysis, issues with indian farm sector

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