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Importance of agriculture

Agriculture, as we all know, is the backbone of any country. For example, the major population of India is working as farmers accounting for around 16% of the total GDP. This ratio is enough to say that India is highly dependent on its agriculture as a huge amount of land is used for it.

There is no doubt that agriculture plays a crucial role in the overall growth of any country and so it is necessary to ensure its development.
The history of Agriculture in India dates back to Indus Valley Civilization Era and even before that in some parts of Southern India. Today, India ranks second worldwide in farm output. Agriculture and allied sectors like forestry and fisheries accounted for 13.7% of the GDP (gross domestic product) in 2013, about 50% of the workforce. The economic contribution of agriculture to India's GDP is steadily declining with the country's broad-based economic growth. Still, agriculture is demographically the broadest economic sector and plays a significant role in the overall socio-economic fabric of India.

Special attention should be given to this sector so that farmers use the latest technology for agriculture that results in higher yield. Better the agriculture, higher will be the growth of the nation.

The impact of agriculture on the country’s growth is definitely quite high and that is why efforts need to be made to improve it. Various schemes should be integrated for the betterment of the farmers along with guiding them on the new ways of farming.

Indian National Policy for Farmers of 2007 stated that "prime farmland must be conserved for agriculture except under exceptional circumstances, provided that the agencies that are provided with agricultural land for non-agricultural projects should compensate for treatment and full development of equivalent degraded or wastelands elsewhere". The policy suggested that, as far as possible, land with low farming yields or that was not farmable should be earmarked for non-agricultural purposes such as construction, industrial parks and other commercial development.

Measures need to be taken to overcome the loss due to heavy or inadequate rainfall so that the farmers can live a happy life.
Agriculture is not only the major sector of the country but a powerful one as well.
India has shown a steady average nationwide annual increase in the kilograms produced per hectare for some agricultural items, over the last 60 years. These gains have come mainly from India's green revolution, improving road and power generation infrastructure, knowledge of gains and reforms. Despite these recent accomplishments, agriculture has the potential for major productivity and total output gains, because crop yields in India are still just 30% to 60% of the best sustainable crop yields achievable in the farms of developed and other developing countries. Additionally, losses after harvest due to poor infrastructure and unorganized retail cause India to experience some of the highest food losses in the world.

Its importance cannot be denied as it accounts to the high GDP.

Provides livelihood to the people - In order to satisfy the wants of the country, agriculture needs to very powerful. In India about 70% of the total population depends on the agriculture and is one of the sources of livelihood for the people especially in the rural areas.

With agricultural policy success in wheat, India's Green Revolution technology spread to rice. However, since irrigation infrastructure was very poor, Indian farmer innovated with tube-wells, to harvest ground water. When gains from the new technology reached their limits in the states of initial adoption, the technology spread in the 1970s and 1980s to the states of eastern India — Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal. The lasting benefits of the improved seeds and new technology extended principally to the irrigated areas which account for about one-third of the harvested crop area. In the 1980s, Indian agriculture policy shifted to "evolution of a production pattern in line with the demand pattern" leading to a shift in emphasis to other agricultural commodities like oilseed, fruit and vegetables. Farmers began adopting improved methods and technologies in dairying, fisheries and livestock, and meeting the diversified food needs of a growing population.

This ratio is quite high to say that the non-development is one of the biggest reasons as for why such a huge sector is involved in agriculture. Most of them are farmers and have no option than to do farming and contribute towards the country’s requirements of food.
As with rice, the lasting benefits of improved seeds and improved farming technologies now largely depends on whether India develops infrastructure such as irrigation network, flood control systems, reliable electricity production capacity, all-season rural and urban highways, cold storage to prevent spoilage, modern retail, and competitive buyers of produce from Indian farmers. This is increasingly the focus of Indian agriculture policy.

Contributes towards the national income - As already stated above that agriculture is definitely one of the biggest sectors accounting to the high GDP and many countries depend on it. This includes India as well where agriculture is the prime source of income for several families.

The following table presents the 20 most important agricultural products in India, by economic value, in 2009. Included in the table is the average productivity of India's farms for each produce. For context and comparison, included is the average of the most productive farms in the world and name of country where the most productive farms existed in 2010. The table suggests India has large potential for further accomplishments from productivity increases, in increased agricultural output and agricultural incomes.

Thus you can say that agriculture accounts for the national income and is an important sector to ponder over.

Helps in economic development - It helps in improving the economic conditions of the country thereby affecting the economic growth by leaps and bounds.

India exported $39 billion worth of agricultural products in 2013, making it the seventh largest agricultural exporter worldwide and the sixth largest net exporter. Most of its agriculture exports serve developing and least developed nations. Indian agricultural/horticultural and processed foods are exported to more than 100 countries, primarily in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, SAARC countries, the EU and the United States.

It is very clear that agriculture has a big impact on living standard of the people which in turn affects the overall development and progress of the nation. So when it comes to the economic development, many countries rely on it.

Offers food security - The people of the country require food in order to fulfill their requirements and if the agriculture is good, it easily helps to satisfy their wants rather than taking it from other countries.

Before the mid-1960s India relied on imports and food aid to meet domestic requirements. However, two years of severe drought in 1965 and 1966 convinced India to reform its agricultural policy and that they could not rely on foreign aid and imports for food security. India adopted significant policy reforms focused on the goal of foodgrain self-sufficiency. This ushered in India's Green Revolution. It began with the decision to adopt superior yielding, disease resistant wheat varieties in combination with better farming knowledge to improve productivity.

The surplus stock can then be traded thereby getting more profits. So a sense of security can be developed as the country can be rest assured that they can accomplish the needs of the citizens.

Serve as a source of food for its citizens - The agriculture provides food items to the country which helps to prevent buying the same from countries.

Over 2500 years ago, Indian farmers had discovered and begun farming many spices and sugarcane. It was in India, between the sixth and four BC, that the Persians, followed by the Greeks, discovered the famous "reeds that produce honey without bees" being grown. These were locally called साखर, (Sākhara). On their return journey, the Macedonian soldiers carried the "honey bearing reeds," thus spreading sugar and sugarcane agriculture. People in India had invented, by about 500 BC, the process to produce sugar crystals. In the local language, these crystals were called khanda (खण्ड), which is the source of the word candy.

This reduces the problem to a large extent and proves beneficial in the growth of the nation too. It is better if the country does farming in most of the staple food products.

Importance to international trade - There are many products which are outsourced to other countries thereby getting a higher price.

A rural market in India — farmers with limited marketing options sell their surplus produce
India lacks cold storage, food packaging as well as safe and efficient rural transport system. This causes one of the world's highest food spoilage rates, particularly during monsoons and other adverse weather conditions. Food travels to the Indian consumer through a slow and inefficient chain of traders. Consumers buy agricultural produce in suburban markets known as 'sabzi mandi' such as one shown or from roadside vendors.
Indian agriculture includes a mix of traditional to modern farming techniques. In some parts of India, traditional use of cattle to plough remains in use. Traditional farms have some of the lowest per capita productivities and farmer incomes.
Since 2002, India has become the world's largest manufacturer of tractors with 29% of world's output in 2013; it is also the world's largest tractor market. Above a tractor in use in north India.

This enforces international trade which is highly useful to the country. This can be possible if there is a surplus supply of the agriculture food items which are of great importance in the international market.
The Indian food distribution system is highly inefficient. Movement of agricultural produce is heavily regulated, with inter-state and even inter-district restrictions on marketing and movement of agricultural goods.

Foreign exchange is yet another concept which comes into play here and has a huge effect on the overall growth of the country.

Reduce capital shortage - This is one sector which requires the least amount of money for its development and that is why it puts an end to the problem of capital shortage.

Startups with niche technology and new business models are working to solve problems in Indian agriculture and it's marketing. Kandawale is one of such e-commerce website which sells Indian Red Onions to bulk users direct from farmers, reducing unnecessary cost escalations!

There are many countries which face this situation and that is why a huge amount of money on wasted on the development of different sectors and do not account much to the GDP. But with agriculture, you can invest a small amount and reap fruits of benefits.
In fiscal year ending June 2011, with a normal monsoon season, Indian agriculture accomplished an all-time record production of 85.9 million tonnes of wheat, a 6.4% increase from a year earlier. Rice output in India hit a new record at 95.3 million tonnes, a 7% increase from the year earlier. Lentils and many other food staples production also increased year over year. Indian farmers, thus produced about 71 kilograms of wheat and 80 kilograms of rice for every member of Indian population in 2011. The per capita supply of rice every year in India is now higher than the per capita consumption of rice every year in Japan.

So it is very clear that agriculture is of great importance not only to the people but in the country as a whole. Steps and measures should be taken to improve agriculture ways thus making it a powerful sector to trade for.

One study suggests Indian agricultural policy should best focus on improving rural infrastructure primarily in the form of irrigation and flood control infrastructure, knowledge transfer of better yielding and more disease resistant seeds. Additionally, cold storage, hygienic food packaging and efficient modern retail to reduce waste can improve output and rural incomes.

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India's agricultural economy is undergoing structural changes. Between 1970 and 2011, the GDP share of agriculture has fallen from 43% to 16%. This isn't because of reduced importance of agriculture or a consequence of agricultural policy. This is largely because of the rapid economic growth in services, industrial output, and non-agricultural sectors in India between 2000 and 2010.

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    Sources:
  • 1. importanceofstuff.com/agriculture
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  • 2. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agriculture_in_India
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