ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Crisis in Indian Agriculture

Can It be Overcome?

The crisis in Indian agriculture, which has been building up for decades, is not one of declining profitability but of non-viability of the bulk of landholdings. The number of these holdings is fast increasing, and even the extent of non-viable land in the total cultivable area is expanding. Merely boosting the productivity of smallholdings is not sufficient, and their non-viability hinders capital formation in agriculture. The main reason behind the crisis is that employment opportunities in non-agricultural sectors are not growing fast enough.

An earlier version of this article was delivered as the 15th Professor L S Venkataramanan Memorial Lecture at the ISEC, Bengaluru, on 14 February 2017. Thanks are due to Khalil Shah of the Institute for Social and Economic Change for promptly providing the requested data.

Policymakers and agricultural experts often focus more on increasing the productivity of land than the welfare of the farmer. Increasing land and water productivity is important, but it is only instrumental in improving the welfare of the farmer and his family. The welfare of the people at large cannot be brought about by neglecting the farmer. Recognising the importance of the agricultural producer and “to take care of the needs of the farming community,” the Government of India recently renamed the ministry of food and agriculture as the ministry of agriculture and farmers’ welfare. When we speak of the farmer, however, the hired agricultural labourer is also included as he is also a producer in his own right. But, if the farmer himself is in penury, how can we expect him to pay a fair wage for labour? A crisis in agriculture affects all those who depend on it for livelihood, and that is a substantial part of the population.

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Updated On : 2nd May, 2018
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