updated on March 18th, 2019
If we look at the challenges faced by Indian agriculture, we can broadly group them into two categories. One category belongs to the problems that have been long standing. Second category of problems is new and has been emerging from the prevailing agricultural practices, system, changing climate and economy. Let us discuss the major challenges in detail:
1. Stagnation in Production of Major Crops: Production of some of the major staple food crops like rice and wheat has been stagnating for quite some time. This is a situation which is worrying our agricultural scientists, planners and policy makers. If this trend continues, there would be a huge gap between the demand of ever growing population and the production. Nobody wants India to go back to a situation that was prevailing in our country prior to Green Revolution. Try to find out what was the situation during pre-Green Revolution period.
2. High cost of Farm Inputs: Over the years rates of farm inputs have increased manifold. Farm inputs include fertilizer, insecticide, pesticides, HYV seeds, farm labour cost etc. Such an increase puts low and medium land holding farmers at a disadvantage.
3. Soil Exhaustion: On one hand green revolution has played a positive role in reducing hunger from India. On the other hand it has also led to negative consequences. One of which is Soil exhaustion. Soil exhaustion means loss of nutrients in the soil from farming the same crop over and over again. This usually happens in the rain forest.
4. Depletion of Fresh Ground Water: The second major negative consequence of green revolution is depletion of fresh ground water. You would remember that areas where green revolution was successful, it was due to the use of chemical fertilizers and irrigation. Most of the irrigation in dry areas of Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh was carried out by excessive use of ground water. Today fresh ground water situation in these states is alarming. In the coming few years if this type of farming practice continues, these states are going to face water famine.
5. Adverse impact of Global Climatic Change: Among various challenges, global climatic change is the recent one. It has been predicted that its impact on agriculture would be immense. Since 70% of the Indian population is engaged in agricultural activities, you can imagine the consequences. It is predicted that due to climate change, the temperature would increase from 2°C to 3°C, there would be increase in sea level, more intense cyclones, unpredictable rainfall etc These changes would adversely affect the production of rice and wheat. Specifically, the rise in temperature in winter would affect the production of wheat in north India. Production of rice would be affected in coastal areas of India due to the ingress of saline water and the increase of the frequency of cyclones.
6. Impact of Globalisation You can see the effect of globalisation on the farm sector in India. All developing countries have been affected by it. The most evident effect is the squeeze on farmer’s income and the threat to the viability of cultivation in India. This is due to the rising input costs and falling output prices. This reflects the combination of reduced subsidy and protection to farmers. Trade liberalization exposes these farmers to competition from highly subsidized production in the developed world.
Globalisation refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Subsidy: A subsidy is money given by government to help support a business or person. Liberalization: liberty to establish any kind of economic activity at any time any where in the country without anticipating any kind of so called private or public restrictions.
7. Providing Food Security: Before the introduction of green revolution in India, we were not self sufficient in terms of our food grain production. Due to partition of India in 1947 the network of canal irrigation system, cotton belt and wheat bowl meant to West Pakistan which is now Pakistan. Similarly the jute belt and rice bowl was awarded to East Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh. With the introduction of green revolution, production of food grains increased substantially and India became self sufficient. However, during the last one decade the total production has become stagnant. On the other hand we have added another 16 to 18 million population over this period. Although India has become self sufficient in good it is yet to ensure food security which is dependent upon accessibility, affordability as well nutritional value of the food available. One of the biggest challenges facing India is Providing Food Security to its population.
8. Farmers Suicide: Every suicide has a multiple of causes. But when you have nearly 200,000 of them, it makes sense to seek broad common factors within that group. The suicides appear concentrated in regions of high commercialization of agriculture and very high peasant debt. Cash crop farmers seemed far more vulnerable to suicide than those growing food crops. Yet the basic underlying causes of the crisis remained untouched. Commercialization of the countryside along with massive decline in investment in agriculture was the beginning of the decline. Withdrawal of bank credit at a time of soaring input prices and the crash in farm incomes compounded the problems. Shifting of millions from food crop to cash crop cultivation had its own risks. Privatization of many resources has also compounded the problems.
The devastation lies in the big 5 States of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh. These states accounted for two-thirds of all farm suicides during 2003-08. Some of the major factors responsible are indebtedness, crop failure, and deterioration in economic status. The decline in social position, exorbitant charges by local money lenders for the vulnerable farmers, chronic illness in the family, addiction etc. have made the life of farmers difficult.
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