Indian Agriculture @ 75
Past achievements and future challenges
India has experienced significant transformation in its economy since independence, especially agriculture. From a severely food-deficit nation during mid-1960s to a self-sufficient one, and becoming the largest exporter of rice and the largest producer of milk in 2020-21 is not a small achievement. Similar break-throughs have been achieved in poultry, fishery, fruits and vegetables, and cotton. All this was made possible with liberal infusion of modern technology, institutional innovations that made small holders part of this change, and enabling right incentives to cultivators. This holds lessons for many developing countries in south and south-east Asia as well as in African continent. But India still faces many challenges on food security front. Malnutrition rates amongst children remain high, and agricultural production begs the question of sustainability as water table in most parts of the country is falling rapidly. Also, the food system needs to move from ‘tonnage centric to farmer centric’ as incomes of agri-households remain pretty low, largely because of small holding sizes. It is high time that India opens up land lease markets, build efficient supply chains with Farmer Producer Organisations by infusing digital technologies to unleash next technological revolution that promotes efficiency, inclusiveness, and sustainability in agriculture through precision agriculture.