In the 1960s, India grappled with severe food shortages, necessitating heavy reliance on wheat imports, particularly under the PL 480 agreement with the United States.
Remarkably, in FY 2022, India’s agricultural exports reached USD 43.37 billion, exhibiting a 6.04% growth from the previous fiscal year, demonstrating a significant shift in its agricultural landscape.
India’s Transformation from Net Importer to Exporter
Green Revolution (1960s-1970s):
Reason: The Green Revolution, initiated in the late 1960s, introduced high-yielding seed varieties, particularly for wheat and rice, enhancing food grain production.
Data: India’s wheat production surged from 12.3 million tonnes in 1965 to 55 million tonnes by 1990.
Expansion of Cultivated Land:
Reason: Net sown area expanded, and multiple cropping practices increased total food grain production.
Data: India’s net sown area grew from 118.75 million hectares in 1950-51 to about 140.1 million hectares in 2000-01.
Diversification into High-Value Crops:
Reason: Farmers diversified into high-value crops like fruits, vegetables, and spices, becoming major global producers.
Data: India produced over 90 million tonnes of fruits by the early 2000s.
Reason: Minimum Support Prices (MSP) ensured fair prices for farmers, incentivizing increased production.
Data: The number of crops under MSP and the MSP rates consistently rose.
Investment in Agricultural Infrastructure:
Reason: Investments in irrigation, storage facilities, and rural roads reduced losses and improved market connectivity.
Data: Irrigated land increased to 40% of cultivated land by the end of the 20th century.
Technological and Research Advancements:
Reason: Agricultural research institutes developed better crop varieties and farming techniques.
Data: The number of high-yielding varieties released increased significantly.
Export Promotion and Global Market Access:
Reason: Post-liberalization, trade policies encouraged agricultural exports, and India’s accession to the WTO improved market access.
Data: India’s agricultural exports surged from USD 5 billion to over USD 30 billion by 2013-14.
- Sustainable Farming Practices: Further Steps Needed: Promote organic farming, crop rotation, and agroforestry. Implement soil health card schemes rigorously.
- Water Management: Further Steps Needed: Promote micro-irrigation techniques, rainwater harvesting, and revive traditional water bodies.
- Post-Harvest Management: Further Steps Needed: Establish modern storage facilities, cold chains, and efficient transportation systems.
- Diversification of Crops: Further Steps Needed: Promote millets, pulses, and oilseeds cultivation through better MSPs.
- Skill Development and Technology: Further Steps Needed: Organize farmer training programs, promote digital platforms for agricultural advisories.
- Infrastructure Development: Further Steps Needed: Enhance rural infrastructure, establish more farmer markets.
- Research and Development: Further Steps Needed: Strengthen agricultural research institutions, focus on climate-resilient crop varieties.
- Credit and Insurance: Further Steps Needed: Expand crop insurance coverage, facilitate easier credit access.
- Market Reforms: Further Steps Needed: Implement reforms for pan-India sales, contract farming, and farmer producer organizations (FPOs).
India’s journey from food shortages in the 1960s to a major global agricultural player showcases the potential of sustained efforts in enhancing agricultural productivity and market access.