Global agriculture is experiencing phenomenal changes due to technological revolution, digital revolution, sprawling urbanization, accelerating growth in middle income groups, fast changing food habits and preferences, the market oscillations, and above all due to climate change and environmental degradation. These changes offer unique challenges and opportunities to transform agriculture to be more productive, economically remunerative, socially equitable and inclusive, and environmentally sustainable.
In India, during last 50 years or so, with the ushering in of the green revolution for grains in mid-1960s, followed by white revolution in milk, yellow in oilseeds, and blue revolution in aquaculture, and rainbow revolution in horticulture sector, overall agricultural and food grain production increased over four fold, several major commodities recorded 4 to 10 fold increases, food grains reaching over 290 MT, horticultural production over 315 MT, and fish production about 12 MT. India thus globally ranked among the top two producers of several major commodities, rendering the country as the second largest agrarian economy in the world.
These developments transformed the country from Ship- to- Mouth status to the status of Right to Food Bill situation; major agricultural/ food exporter; reducing the poverty and hunger levels by 50-70 per cent. Despite the excellent progress, nearly one fourth of world’s hungry and 35-40 per cent undernourished and stunted children have their homes in India.
Another unique feature of India’ agrarian economy is that the country is home to over one-third small and marginal farm holders, with unabating and splitting, the average holding size has reached below one hectare. And these small and marginal farmers, paradoxically comprise vast majority of the country’s hungry and poor who constitute one-fourth of the world’s such deprived people.
Along with technological revolutions in agriculture, farm sector in India experienced high level of commercialization of farm sector. Starting from input manufacturing and supply and production sub-sectors of farm economy, commercialization of high order has entered in marketing and trade, processing and distribution besides exports. Growth in food retailing and e-business in Indian farm sector is unpreceded. Business orientation of agriculture consulting and extension is explicitly evident.
Entrepreneurship development based in agriculture is growing very fast. Digital revolution has also taken deep roots in agriculture. Whereas the share of agriculture in national GDP is consistently declining, the share of agribusiness is consistently growing. It is worth saying that during ongoing pandemic caused by COVID- 19 it is only the agriculture sector of the economy that continued to show positive and impressive growth. Agricultural exports during this period also grew and has been responsible in narrowing down of trade gap.
Increasing agricultural productivity of the small holder farmers, poverty reduction, class and regional equity, and smashing of the epigenetic fixation of undernutrition; however, continue to bother planners and policy makers and thus must be central to the growth,