From being on the verge of famine in the 1960s to becoming a major food exporter by the 21st century, India’s agricultural transformation is a testament to a combination of policy decisions, technological innovation, and hardworking farmers. Here are the primary reasons for this turnaround:
- Green Revolution (1960s and 1970s): One of the most significant factors, the Green Revolution introduced high-yielding varieties of seeds, especially wheat and rice. Combined with modern farming techniques, the use of fertilizers, and improved irrigation facilities, this dramatically boosted agricultural productivity. The revolution primarily began with the efforts of Dr. M.S. Swaminathan and Norman Borlaug.
- Improved Irrigation: Projects like the Bhakra-Nangal Dam and the expansion of canal networks ensured more consistent water supply for agriculture. This lessened the farmer’s dependence on the monsoon.
- Agricultural Policies: The government provided Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for several crops, ensuring a guaranteed income for farmers and encouraging them to produce more.
- Infrastructure Development: Investment in rural infrastructure, including roads and storage facilities, facilitated the swift movement and storage of agricultural produce.
- Agricultural Research and Education: Institutions like the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and agricultural universities have constantly been at the forefront of research, leading to the development of better crop varieties and farming techniques.
- Diversification into High-Value Crops: Over the years, Indian farmers diversified into horticulture, aquaculture, and floriculture, increasing export potential.
- Initiatives like Operation Flood: Launched in the 1970s, this transformed India from a milk-deficient nation to the world’s largest milk producer.
- Market Reforms: Post-1990s, reforms were initiated to reduce the role of middlemen, aiming to give farmers better prices and improve the supply chain.
- Global Market: As the global demand for food products, especially in the Middle East and Africa, increased, India’s exports found new markets.
- Government Schemes: Initiatives like the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) for better water management, the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) for holistic development, and e-NAM for better market access have further strengthened the agricultural sector.
In conclusion, a mix of technological, policy-driven, and market-oriented factors transformed India from a net food importer to an exporter. While challenges persist, the trajectory showcases the potential of coordinated efforts in achieving food security and economic success.