Hebei Lansheng Biotech Co., Ltd. ShangHai Yuelian Biotech Co., Ltd.

Indian Agriculture——Innovative, Progressive, Competitive, Vibrant and Very Differentqrcode

Oct. 12, 2016

Favorites Print
Oct. 12, 2016

Indian Agriculture——Innovative, Progressive, Competitive, Vibrant and Very Different

Co-authored by: S. Ganesan and Archana Nair from UPL Ltd.

The twenty first century is and will be the Asian century” said the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the opening session of the “Advancing Asia Conference (Delhi, March 11-13, 2016)”.

Asia accounts for 40% of the global economy and contribute two thirds of the global GDP growth today. What is more significant is that Asia accounts for 50% of the world’s agricultural production. The average farm size in China is 0.6 hectare and in India it is 1.13 hectare - very small by western standards. Yet, these two countries have emerged as global leaders in agricultural production. India is one of the most progressive countries in Asia and one of the fastest growing economy in the world.

What makes Indian agriculture vibrant and very different?

Like Indian culture, agriculture in India is highly pluralistic and multidimensional. India’s ecological diversity, crop diversity and diet diversity are inextricably interconnected. They symbiotically support one another, and together, highly sustainable. India is a multiproduct agricultural powerhouse. No other country grows as many food and non-food crops as India. India’s small sized family farms practice a unique kind of mixed agri-horti-livestock farming. It is common in India to see agri farmers doubling up as milk producers, goat rearers, poultry keepers aqua-culturists etc. India’s cropping intensity is the highest in the world.

Intensification and specialization in select crops enabled productivity improvements in industrialized farming in the developed countries. Whereas in India, the volume growth in a diverse range of agricultural crops enhances the economic performance of agriculture. The domestic production of modern inputs such as high yielding seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, farm equipment and improved communication systems have immensely contributed to India becoming a global leader in agriculture.

Indian agriculture in the 21st millennia is structurally different and robust than the one prevalent during the Green Revolution era which began in 1970s. In the three decades from the 1970s until the late 1990s, India’s agricultural GDP expanded sluggishly from $25 billion to $101 billion as the growth was cereals centric- mainly rice and wheat. However, between 2000 and 2014, India’s agricultural production leapfrogged from $101 billion to $367 billion, driven largely by high value segments such as horticulture, dairy, poultry and inland fisheries. Indian agriculture is currently in a rapid growth phase.

India‘s position in global agricultural production.

Source: UN /IMF data for the year 2014 accessed from www.statisticstimes.com

India ranks second in the world in agricultural output with a share of 8%. In the year 2014, India’s agricultural production was $367 billion. Agriculture is India’s largest private sector that employs 54% of the country’s total workforce of 481 million. It is this labour intensive agricultural sector that has taken India to global glory.

Light, land, labour and water are essential requirements for agriculture. India has every one of these essentials in abundance. The average annual precipitation in India (1083 mm) is much higher than China, USA, Australia, etc.

As the Indian economy developed, the share of agriculture in India’s GDP (at current prices) expectedly declined from more than 40% in 1970s to around 17% in 2014. However, in value terms the agricultural production is considerably higher now. Horticulture and livestock sectors drive the growth and account for 60% India’s agricultural GDP now.

Small farms with high agri-output

Majority of the farms in India belong to the small and marginal category with holdings of less than 2 ha. Indian farmers are multi- skilled. Driven by the economic necessity to maximize the returns, these small farms have evolved through self-engineered innovation - especially over the last 15 years -into producing a variety of agricultural products round the year. Heterogeneity is the hallmark of modern farming in India. Crop mixtures, double cropping, backyard livestock farming are all the most common methods of farming. All these make Indian agriculture remarkably resilient, vibrant and less vulnerable to uncertainties.

Crop cultivation and livestock co-exist in India at the farm level, ensuring round the year economic activity. The aggregate agricultural output per unit area per year in India is among the highest in the world. Every unit of farmland in India produces multiple agricultural outputs.

India is the world’s largest producer of milk. Latest estimate put the production at 146 million tons (2015). Smallholder dairy farming systems supply over 90% of India’s milk production. Stovers of cereals, legumes, haulms of potato, sugarcane tops, fruits and vegetable wastes together with own farm grown green fodders form cattle feed in India.

In India, small herd of cattle and flock of chicken in the backyard are important household assets. Their milk and egg production provides daily link to the retail market brings regular income and considerably improves rural prosperity.

Indian agriculture is globally competitive

India is probably the only country where one can buy one dozen bananas or eggs for one dollar!

As per the latest data from WTO (2015), India ranks 19th in merchandize exports, and 9th in agricultural exports. This shows India’s global competitiveness in agriculture. India was a net importer of rice till mid 1980s. India is now the largest rice exporter with a whopping share of 26% of the world trade. According to a recent study by the USDA, India is the fastest growing exporter of agricultural products. India’s share in the world’s agricultural exports can easily reach 10% from the present level of 2.35% if supported by policy changes and aggressive marketing. China’s agricultural exports are higher than India, but China – unlike India- is a net importer of food as its agricultural import ($160 bn) remain higher than the corresponding exports ($73 bn).

The final word

To quote the World Bank: “India has brought about a landmark agricultural revolution that has transformed the nation from chronic dependence on grain imports into a global agricultural powerhouse that is now a net exporter of food”. Indian agricultural system (mixed crop-livestock farming) is a model of sustainable agriculture for the whole world. Highlighting this unique, low cost and diverse farming system globally will help positioning India as an agriculturally vibrant economy and a leader in her own right.

Opinions expressed in these publications are of the authors and not UPL company, and do not necessarily represent UPL views.

About the Authors:

S. Ganesan is the Vice President (Corporate Affairs) of UPL Ltd.
Ganesan has professional qualifications in Agricultural Sciences and PGDEL in Environmental Law. He has over three decades of experience in the field of agrochemicals. Ganesan regularly publishes papers and gives lectures on Indian agriculture and on matters connected to pesticides use and he has presented many policy advocacy papers highlighting the link between GATT / WTO and Multilateral Environmental Agreements in the field of chemicals and pesticides.

Archana Nair is the Corporate Communications Manager of UPL Ltd.
She is an Executive Editor for the quarterly magazine published by Crop Care Federation of India and Governing Council member with Center for Environment and Agriculture.

Source: AgroNews


More from AgroNewsChange

Hot Topic More

I wanna post a press Comment


Subscribe Email: *
Mobile Number:  





Subscribe India Special Biweekly to send news related to your mailbox