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

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Indian Agriculture Needs a Holistic Policy Framework, Not Pro-market Reforms

The Indian agricultural sector has long suffered a plethora of structural infirmities that have contributed to the continuing crisis in the sector. While India did well to achieve food self-sufficiency, after a couple of decades of chronic food shortages following independence, this was achieved primarily by adopting high-yielding varieties of seeds along with input and price subsidies. However, these productivity gains have long plateaued. The government’s move to introduce the farm legislations shifts the focus onto issues relating to marketing of agricultural products, which, though important, divert attention from the critical problems that Indian agriculture is saddled with.

For any observer of India’s economic progress, it should be obvious that India’s agricultural sector has been steeped in crisis for the past several decades. In 1950–51, agriculture’s share in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) (including livestock) was 45%; the share of workforce directly dependent on the sector was close to 70%. Seven decades later, agriculture’s share in the GDP is just around 15%, but more than 42% of the country’s workforce depends on this sector.1 Unless this fundamental imbalance is resolved, agriculture will continue to be the Achilles heel of India’s economic transformation story, which it has been for a long time now. It will therefore be impossible for India to catapult itself out of the ranks of lower-middle income countries it has been caught in for nearly a decade and a half.2

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Updated On : 20th Apr, 2021

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