Essay on Agriculture
Agriculture is a primary source of livelihood in India. Half of the population living in India is employed in agriculture. Agriculture has a huge impact on the health of the economy and the nation's food security. This sector of the economy is in huge distress and seeing continuous stagnation. Prospects of agriculture bloomed during Green Revolution, but they slowed down over the period. The depressing state of agriculture is largely contributed to the policies adopted by the Colonial Rulers like Zamindari System, Permanent Settlement, etc. Agriculture is overburdened with people, and the product remains the same.
After India became free, the Government of Independent India remained concerned about the bad state of agriculture. They set up various commissions to study the problems related to agriculture. Many reports were submitted to the Government to improve the farmers' lives, but this has remained largely on paper, and no visible and significant improvement has been observed in the lives of farmers.
Different Types of Agriculture Practised in the World
Agriculture is performed under various conditions that may include socio-economic and physical conditions. These conditions have generated different types of Agriculture in the world. Some different types of agriculture which are present and performed around the Globe are:
Primitive Subsistence Agriculture
This type of cultivation is performed by the tribes and is mostly observed in South and Central America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Sometimes it is also called Shifting cultivation. It also has another name Slash and Burns agriculture, due to its unique method. The fire clears the whole vegetation, and the remaining ashes give fertility to the soil. Farmer shifts to another location as the previous patch of land loses fertility after 3 to 5 years. It is performed on small soil areas, and the tools used in these kinds of cultivation are very primitive and archaic. People call it Jhum Cultivation in North Eastern India, Ladang in Malaysia and Indonesia, and Milpa in Mexico and Central America.
Intensive Subsistence Agriculture
This type of cultivation has been observed in the heavily populated regions of Asia, and it has been divided into two types based on the domination of crops:
The Colonial Masters introduced this type of agriculture in their respective colonies. The striking feature of this type of agriculture is cultivated on large patches of land. Bananas, sugarcane, coffee, tea, cocoa, rubber, pineapples, oil palm, and cotton are important crops. This type of agriculture demands a huge amount of capital, an efficient system of transportation that should connect estates and markets so that products can be exported easily, technical and managerial support, scientific ways of cultivation, cheap labor, and specialization in single crops.
The British Colonial master established huge Tea estates in Sri Lanka and India. Some colonial examples are Banana and Sugarcane plantations in West Indies and rubber plantations in Malaysia. French had set up coffee and cocoa plantations in West Africa. The Dutch had monopolized Sugarcane plantations in Indonesia, but later, when these countries got freedom from the shackles of slavery, the ownership of the estates got transferred to the respective national governments.
Mixed and Dairy Farming
Mixed farming is widely observed in developed countries like Eastern North America, North-Western Europe, and some parts of Eurasia. Major crops grown in this kind of farming are corn, fodder, barley, oats, and root crops. One of the striking features of mixed farming is the practice of intercropping and crop rotation. Crop cultivation and Animal Husbandry have an equal place in this kind of farming. Visible characteristics of farming are immense use of green manure and fertilizers, farm machinery, involvement of skill and expertise of men, and heavy capital expenditure is required.
This farming demands a huge amount of capital, and advanced technology is roped into milch animals. Special attention is paid to health care, cattle breeding, and veterinary services. This farming is labor intensive, and special focus has to be given to milching and feeding. Dairy farming is mostly practiced near major industrial units and urban centers.
Agricultural Pattern in India
Monsoon in India decides the prospects of agriculture. In India, Agriculture is hugely dependent on the monsoon. Agriculture has been divided into two seasons: Kharif Season and Rabi Season.
This season begins with the arrival of monsoons in India, and crops are sown at the beginning of the monsoon. Harvesting seasons are observed from September to October. The timelines varied from state to state.
Water is the most important criterion for production. Kharif Crops demand a good amount of rainfall for growth. The output production of these crops largely depends on the water. Some examples of Kharif crops are Cotton, Rice, Maize, Sorghum, Bajra, and Soyabean.
Rabi Crops are grown in the winter season from October or November. Harvesting of this crop is seen in the Spring season. This type of crop demands continuous water as they are sown in dry seasons. Rabi crops are Wheat, Linseed, Mustard, Pulses, Oats, and Barley. Those crops grown in both seasons greatly impact the prices of vegetables and grains.
Major Crops Grown in India
It has been classified into two forms:
Cash Crops: Tea, Coffee, Sugarcane, Oilseeds, Cotton, Horticulture Crops, and Jute.
Food Crops: Corn, Rice, Wheat, Pulses, and Millets.
Challenges Facing Agriculture
1. Pattern of Cropping
The pattern of Cropping Crops that are cultivated in India is broadly classified into two ways: Non-Food Crops and Food Crops. Non- Food crops include oilseeds and the cultivation of fibres. Food Crops include sugarcane, beverages, and grains. The cropping pattern has not changed and caused many land and soil-related problems. As the climate changing, there is a growing demand for crop diversification.
As discussed above, Agriculture is immensely dependent upon the timing of the monsoon. It largely influences the production of grains. If the monsoon fails, it will have a devastating result on agriculture production.
3. Fragmentation and Sub Division of Land
The rise in population and families becoming nuclear has led to further and continuous land division. Sometimes, the owner has to sell its land to pay the debt.
4. Land Ownership
Inequality in land distribution is a cause of concern. In India, ownership of the land changes frequently. It has created a vicious circle in which large parcels of land in India are owned by few Individuals, including money-lenders, rich farmers, and landlords. The majority of farmers own few pieces of land or are either landless.
5. Pesticides, Chemical Fertilizers, and Manures
Soils in India do not get enough time for replenishment, leading to low productivity and depletion of fertility. The yield of the crops is the lowest in the world. The nature of the issue is grave and can be cured using the scientific method.
6. Problem in Irrigation
India has the privilege of being the second largest irrigated country in the Globe. However, just one-third of the area is under irrigation. Thus, it has become imperative to spread the irrigation network in India as the Monsoon in India is erratic and untimely.
7. Inefficient Transportation system
A well-connected transport system is required for the timely delivery of produce from the field to the market. It ensures that products should reach to market without delay. Currently, rural areas are not well connected with the Urban market, hindering agriculture's growth.
8. Lack of Technology
There is minimal use of technology in agriculture. The Farmer still uses archaic technology and depends on primitive ways. There has not been a significant infusion of the latest technology in agriculture. Farmers have also not been incentivized to adopt the latest technology due to financial constraints.
9. The Poor Condition of Farm Laborers
Conditions of Farm laborers are in a bad state. They received minimum profit from agriculture. This sector has not increased income. It has not raised their living standard; instead, it is declining. Disguised unemployment is present in the sector.
10. Market Issue
The market is filled with intermediaries and local traders. These middlemen have become so powerful that they have considerable control over prices. They try to gain maximum profit from the Farmer's produce. Now, the issue is becoming grave with the incoming of powerful corporate player who attempts to destabilize the market to profit from their products. In this fight, the ultimate victim is the Farmer, who faces the brunt.
Government Support to Agriculture
Problems in agriculture have deepened over time. Government is conscious of the fact that there are challenges plaguing the prospects of agriculture that need to be tackled and resolved to make the Farmer's lives prosperous and stable. It has been felt that individuals cannot solve these problems. The state's interference is needed. State also has a moral, social and economic responsibility to solve the problems of agriculture. The state cannot ignore this problem when nearly half of the population depends on agriculture for food, income, and livelihood.
The state has realized its responsibility and has taken several steps to reform agriculture. They have undertaken several concrete steps to ease the lives of farmers. Agriculture infrastructure was ramped up in that process, and many roads were built to connect rural areas to markets.
The state has endeavored to ease the life of farmers through an institutional framework like setting up NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development), ICAR (Indian Agriculture Research Institute), APMC (Agricultural Market Produce Market Committee), and Food Corporation of India. These government-run organizations try to incentivize agriculture and allied activities through their institutional framework and mechanism.
When India gained independence from the British, the Government of India abolished the Zamindari system, and permanent land settlement and distribution were carried out. However, land distribution was not satisfactory as the law had several loopholes. Using these loopholes, big landlords registered their lands in the name of their close relatives. The Government of India gives lots of subsidies on fertilizers and other agricultural activities at the exchequer's expense. On several occasions, the Government of India has been severely criticized by the international community, but still Government continues with it. The Government is very well aware that it is not the correct time to lift the subsidies. This sector needs very much support from the Government.
Due to the massive use of chemical fertilizers, the health of the soil has deteriorated severely. The Government has opened technology-enabled testing labs in the country to check the health of the soil. This type of testing helps farmers know the soil's health and is necessary he has to undertake to improve the quality of the soil. It has also helped the Farmer to help to shift to a new cropping pattern and to adopt new ways of irrigation.
Notable and Effective Government Schemes for the Agriculture:
Kisan Call Centre, Agri Market App, and Kisan Suvidha App are the other digital initiatives the Government introduced.