Agriculture the Road Ahead (Yojana 2021) (Download PDF)

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Agriculture the Road Ahead

  • Bulk of the population engaged in crop agriculture and allied fields.
  • India has 1.3 billion people or approximately 17.9 % of the global population which lives on 2.4 % land and 5 % water resources of the world.
  • India ranks second in the world in agriculture production with 11 % of total global agriculture.
  • Leading producer of:
    • Food grains
    • Cotton
    • Cane
    • Horticultural crops
    • Dairy
    • Poultry
    • Aquaculture and spices
  • Agriculture production in 2019 was valued at USD 459 billion.
  • Agriculture GDP rose from USD 101 billion in 2001 to USD 459 billion in the recent years.
  • Workforce declined from 60 % in 2000 to 42 % in 2019 as the economy grew.

Agricultural production has been ever increasing touching new heights:

  • Food grains 297 MT horticulture
  • Cotton 37 million bales of 170 kg each
  • Milk 199 MT
  • Fish 13 MT
  • Poultry 4 MT
  • 103 billion egg production

Future Challenges

  • The growing population poses a challenge to food and nutritional securities.
  • There is a pressure on land due to urbanization, improved standard of living, changed food habits, etc. , generating great demand for diversified agricultural commodities.
  • Declining soil health.
  • Low nutrient content.
  • Occurrence of new biotic stresses.
  • Frequent droughts and floods due to climate change.
  • Erratic rainfall as nearly 62 % cultivated land is rain-fed.
  • Farmers are unable to get sufficient returns of their produce and hence being driven to poverty.
  • To meet the challenges the country must prepare for increasing land productivity by 3 times and labor output by 6 times.
  • Use of low carbon emission technology.


  • India was at 10th spot among countries with highest number of underweight children.
  • At 17th position for highest number of stunted children in world in 2019.
Underweight Children in India

The Road Ahead

Technology Innovation

  • Globally agriculture sciences are experiencing series of innovations.
  • Development of technologies that could mitigate the effects of climate change, better the yields, reduce the effects of salinity, drought, flooding, and biotic stresses, etc.
  • Many crops have been improved through genomics assisted breeding, transgenics, and now through the CRISPR-CaS 9 technology.
  • Several molecular breeding products have been commercialized.
  • Farmers are taking advantage of molecular breeding in rice, maize, wheat, chickpea, and groundnut.
  • Cotton the first biotic crop has brought the Indian cotton production at the top level in the world.

Important for mitigating the challenges of future agriculture:

  • Refining integrated crop management.
  • Systems like resource conservation.
  • Innovations in irrigation application.
  • Sustainable intensification.
  • Prevention of post-harvest losses.
  • New crop protection techniques.
  • Modern communication tools including social media.
  • ICT for updating farmers in rural areas.

Investment in Research and Development

  • Internal rate of return on investment in agricultural research is estimated to be more than 42 % much higher than any other sector.
  • Naturally strengthening research and development and innovations to create new technologies.
  • Series of policy changes needed to give emphasis on technology and skill intensive agriculture.
  • Suitable policy reforms will certainly act as the confidential building mechanism amongst all the stakeholders of agriculture.

Policy Options

  • Legislation of three major bills.
    • Farmers Produce and Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020 (Trade and Commerce Act) .
    • Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance
    • Farm Services Act, 2020 (Contract Farming Act) .
  • Necessary amendments to the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
  • Farmers are now free to from the designated markets and can sale their produce anywhere to get the maximum price.
  • The govt. restricts the scientists from commercializing their product through the genetic engineering technologies.
  • There is a need to alter the policies from input intensive to technology and skill intensive modes.

The Contract Farming Act

  • Provides for them to enter into agreements with companies, retailers, Agri firms, etc.
  • They can produce the crop for an agreed price so the current volatility in market will not affect the prices that the farmers are entitled to as per the contract.


  • Need to step up production of many commodities by around 30 % to feed the expected 1.7 billion people by 2050.
  • Naturally strengthening research and development and innovations to create new technologies will be an important step for Indian agriculture.
  • Series of policy changes needed to give emphasis on technology and skill-intensive agriculture.

- Published/Last Modified on: May 17, 2021

Science/Technology, Health, Agriculture/Agro Industries, Yojana

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