India is the second largest producer of food in the world. However Indian agriculture has shown a slow average annual growth rate. It was 3.1 % during the decade 1980-1990 prior to liberalization of the economy. But since then the annual growth rates have declined consistently relative to annual growth rate of the population. Several factors were responsible for this fall in growth rate ; lack of credit, inadequate irrigation cover, and indebtedness, continuing use of obsolete technology, improper use of inputs and decline in the public investments.
The decline in overall growth of employment during 1993-94 to 2004-05 was largely due to fall in creation of employment opportunities in agriculture. With increase in knowledge and entry of many foreign firms in the non-agricultural sectors, the labour has shifted to manufacturing and services sectors. The National Sample Survey Organization’s (NSSO)report on Employment and Unemployment Situationin India 2009-10, on the basis of usually workingpersons in the principal status and subsidiary status,for every 1000 people employed in rural and urbanIndia, 679 and 75 people are employed in theagriculture sector, 241 and 683 in services sectorand 80 and 242 in theindustrial sector, respectively.
With globalization farmers were encouraged to shift from traditional crops to export- oriented ‘cash crops’ such as cotton and tobacco but such crops needed far more inputs in terms of fertilizers, pesticides and water. The growth in yields of principal crops notably rice and wheat have also decelerated.
There has been a decline in overall areaunder foodgrains during 2011-12. The areacoverage under foodgrains during 2011-12 stoodat 1254.92 lakh ha compared to 1267.65 lakhha last year. The lower area under foodgrainshas been due to a shortfall in the area underjowar in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat; Bajra in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana; andin pulses in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, AndhraPradesh, and Rajasthan.
Appropriate use of agricultural equipments, suited to the crops and the region of cultivation, lead to efficient utilization of farm inputs, making farming financially viable and profitable. Though there has been considerable progress in farm mechanization, its spread across the country stillremains uneven. The most significant supply side constraint to agricultural production is irrigation coverage that still extends to only about 40 per cent of net sown area. There has been a slow down in the growth rate of direct demand for food grain consumption on account of several factors and there is a need to address these challenges of the agriculture sector through coordinated efforts directed at improving farm production and productivity through high value crops, developing rural infrastructure, renewing thrust on the irrigation sector, strengthening marketing infrastructure, and supporting investment in R&D with due emphasis on environmental concerns.