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INDIAN AGRICULTURE & FOOD SECURITY: PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS

One of the fears that has been
raised in the aftermath of the government
promulgating an ordinance to amend the
Land Acquisition Act is that land will be
taken away for other purposes and this may
cause the amount of land used for farming
to come down dramatically.
A recent survey, named, US Geological
Survey, shows that there are 1.87
billion hectares of croplands in the world,
which is 15-20 percent or 250 -350 million
hectare higher than former assessments by
USGS. This change is due to more detailed
understanding of large areas that were never
mapped before or were inaccurately mapped
as non-croplands.
Earlier, studies showed either China
or USA as having the highest net cropland
are, but this study shows that India ranks
first, with 179.8 mha (9.6% of the global
net cropland area). Second is USA with
167.8 mha (8.9%), China with 165.8 mha
(8.8%) and Russia with 155.2 mha (8.3%).
South Asia and Europe can be considered
agricultural capitals due to the percent of
croplands of total geographical area.
Agricultural Land & Productivity
India has the largest agricultural land
in the world with 179.8 mha. India holds
the first position and what this means is
that India has enough land dedicated to
agriculture and even if some of it is taken
away for other purposes, there will still be
enough land left for agriculture. Nevertheless,
there are other bigger problems when
it comes to Indian agriculture.
Low Agricultural Productivity
Take the case of China. India has more
arable land than China. This, despite the
fact its total area is only a little over 34%
that of China. However, China produces
more rice and wheat than India does. India
is the second largest producer of rice and
wheat after China, with China producing
about 40%more rice and wheat than India.
India is also the second largest producer
of fruits and vegetables in the world after
China, but China’s fruit production is three
times of India’s production.
What it indicates that agricultural productivity
is low compared to that of China
and many other countries in the world. There
are multiple reasons for this low productivity:
l The average holding size of the land
has come down over the decades. It has
declined to 1.16 hectare in 2010-11 from
2.82 hectare in 1970-71. Small and marginal
land holdings of less than 2-hectare
account for 85% of the total operational
holding and 44% of the operated area.
l This shrinking size of average land
holding of Indian farmers has held back
agriculture productivity. And, there is
not much can be done about this. But,
there are other areas like increasing
agricultural productivity, be it on small
or large farmlands, which demand attention
from policy makers.
Ways to increase Agricultural productivity:

It can be done through easy and reliable
access to inputs such as:
l Availability of quality seed, fertilizers,
pesticides
l Access to suitable technology tailored
for specific needs
l The presence of supportive infrastructure
and innovative marketing system
l To aggregate and market the output
from large number of small holding
efficiently.
Ensuring that every farmer has access
to quality seeds is very important. The efficacy
of other agriculture inputs such as
fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation are
largely determined by the quality of seed
used. Quality of seeds accounts for 20-25%
of productivity. Hence, timely availability
of quality seeds at affordable prices to
farmers is necessary for achieving higher
agriculture productivity and production.
Another issue which adds to the problem
is that substantial chunks of scarce land
remain untilled because of landowner’s
reluctance to lease out land for fear of losing
its ownership.
What these details tell us clearly is that
India has enough land for farming. The
problem is that it is not productive enough.
M o n i t o r i n g a n d M a p p i n g
Croplands
l With the global population nearing
7.6 billion mark, and is expected to
reach 10 bn by 2050, it is of increasing
importance to understand and monitor
the state of agriculture across the world
in great detail.
l This new research is useful for international
development organization,
farmers, decision makers, scientists,
policy makers and governments to make
policies for the welfare of farmers.
l It is a baseline and starting point for
higher level of assessments, such as
identifying which crops are present and
where, when they grow, their productivity,
if lands are fallow and whether
the water source is irrigated or rainfed.
l Comparison can be made between
the past and present years as well as
between one farm and other farm.
l It is invaluable to know the precise
location of croplands and their dynamics
to lead to informed and productive
farm management.
l Critical for water security: Nearly
80% of all human water use across the
world goes towards producing food,
and this research provides insight on
“more crop per drop”.
Programmes & Schemes
Important programmes run by the
government for irrigation, food security
and increasing agricultural productivity:
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana
(PMKSY):
It is a national mission to improve farm
productivity and ensure better utilization of the
resources in the country. The budget of 500
billion (US$7.8 billion) in a time span of five
years has been allocated to this scheme.
Purpose:
l The primary objectives of PMKSY are
to attract investments in irrigation system
at field level, develop and expand
cultivable land in the country, enhance
rain water use in order to minimize
wastage of water, enhance crop per
drop by implementing water-saving
technologies and precision irrigation.
l The plan additionally calls for bringing
ministries, offices, organizations,
research and financial institutions occupied
with creation and recycling of
water under one platform so that an
exhaustive and holistic outlook of the
whole water cycle is considered.
l The goal is to open the doors for optimal
water budgeting in all sectors. Tagline
for PMKSY is “More Crop Per Drop”.