Agriculture in India: Before and After Independence

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Agriculture In India – Introduction
Agriculture has been an integral part of the Indian Economy, before and after Independence, despite its decline in share of GDP (17.2% as of 2011). Half of India’s population depends on Agriculture as a livelihood. India is 2nd in farm output. It the largest producer of coriander, spices, millets and many more; second in fruits such as mangoes and papaya; and third in rapeseed, tomatoes and coconuts. Yet 1/3rd of Indian population is under poverty line. Before independence:

The British colonial government of India did not pursue an active policy of agricultural development despite modest efforts to formulate one. Indian exports, at the latter part of British Raj mainly comprised of foodgrains, cotton, jute, opium and indigo. By 1881, Famine commissions were set in each province in India aiming to step up agriculture. They carried out scientific research. But output was very low. After WWI, the Royal Commission (set up in 1926 to find reasons for low output) promoted welfare for the rural community and also suggested the formation of the ICAR (Imperial Council of Agricultural Research) which happened in 1929. Wide research was encouraged, and irrigation focused upon. The 1930s then saw the Great Depression felt worldwide. After WWII and incidents including Bengal Famine and Great Depression, reorganization was effected. Despite such great strides, there was a low productivity per hectare, because of several reasons, including the Great Depression of the 1930s, The Bengal Famine, primitive technology, extremely frequent droughts, unemployment or under-employment, poverty and exploitation of the rural community. Farmers were left with meager incentive and were bound to depend on moneylenders. The Land Tenure System was prominent. From 1891 to 1946, output of all crops grew at 0.4% per annum. This rate for food grains was only 0.1 % per year. Specifically, there were few improvements in seeds, agricultural implements, machines, or chemical fertilizers. Since Independence:

On independence, agriculture and allied sectors provided 72% of the country's employment, more than half of the gross national product, and about half of the National Income. The Partition created further imbalance. A major part of India’s population was under the poverty line. So the govt. was to initiate a growth process in agriculture and was faced with a challenge. It laid out a set of goals to be implemented by adopting a package approach. Throughout the late 1940s and entire of 1950s, Campaigns focusing on food and cash crops were observed. The National Five Year Plans initiated growth in agriculture after 1950. Land reforms and technological developments took place simultaneously. Most of the national goals included land reclamation, land development, consolidation, control of prices and forward thinking, mechanization and industry development. Chemical fertilizers were widely created. Diversification of crops was also observed and non-traditional crops such as soybeans and peanuts gradually gained importance. The growth strategy of Indian Agriculture evolved with time in several stages. In the early stages, aims were to eradicate socioeconomic constraints through land reform, change in the village power structure, reorganization of the rural poor into cooperatives, and better citizen participation in planning. The Land Tenure System was aimed to be abandoned (by removing Zamindari system). Area-specific intensive programmes were implemented. Production was increasing, but India’s population was rapidly increasing. To meet the rising demands, imports were initiated. In the 1950s, 5% of India’s food grains were imported. In the next decade, this figure soared due to the 2 severe drought years of 1965 – 66 to 7%. In 1966 imports were over 10 million against domestic production of 72 million. The continued shortages in the 1960s and the consequent crises convinced policy makers that raising agricultural output,...
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