From severe food shortage to becoming a net exporter of several commodities, agriculture in India has transformed in many ways over the past 75 years.
Although an agrarian economy where more than 75 percent of the population derived their livelihood from agriculture, the country at independence and after was plagued by low productivity, shortage food, famine in Bengal and heavy dependence on imports.
Then, in the 1960s, the green revolution changed the course of agriculture in India. Over the past 50 years, per capita food production in the country has more than doubled. The share of agriculture and related sectors in India’s total gross value added was 18.8% in 2021-2022. But while agriculture’s share has declined in India’s overall gross value added, it continues to grow in absolute terms and employs nearly 49% of total households in 2020 and 2021.
When the country and the world were ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, the agricultural sector recorded above-average real growth of 3.6% in 2020-21, even as the overall economy contracted. by 6.2%.
In 2021-2022, the agricultural sector grew by 3.9%. Today, India is the world’s largest milk producer with dairy exports growing by more than 96% in 2021-2022. India’s overall agricultural exports increased by 20% to $50.21 billion over the same period.
However, the income of farmers in India is still very low. At the macro level, the income per non-agricultural worker is 3.75 times the income of an average agricultural worker, which includes agricultural workers and cultivators.
Indian agriculture still faces challenges of low agricultural productivity, high food price volatility and climate change issues.
According to Siraj Hussain, former Secretary of Agriculture, “For various reasons, farm incomes are low, including low productivity in many parts of the country, irrigation coverage is still around 49.5% and in some years the prices of agricultural products are too low, which results in farmers not earning enough, so the government has tried to attract people from agriculture to other sectors of the economy. we haven’t been very successful in doing that, but I hope we will continue to fight for it.
Watch the video to learn more about the evolution of India’s agriculture and rural economy over the past 75 years and the way forward for the sector.