HYBRID EVENT: You can participate in person at Rome, Italy or Virtually from your home or work.
Agri 2024

V P S Arora

V P S Arora, Speaker at Agriculture Conferences
Venkateshwara Group of Institutions, India
Title : Technology driven Indian agriculture: Retrospect and prospect


The Indian agriculture, after Independence has established a number of milestones of achievements. The scenario of ship-to-mouth in 1950s has been transformed to a situation of food security and net surplus for export. The green revolution era of 1960s to 1980s and the economic reforms era in 1990s and in 2015-21 have contributed significantly to the growth of agricultural production in India. The sector has become crucial to the economy for ensuring food security as also for promoting inclusive growth and enhancing income and livelihoods in rural areas. The contribution of agriculture to the national GDP in 1950-51 was about 52.3% which has come down in 2022-23 to about 15%. The sector, however, continues to be the major source of employment as also of livelihood to close to half of the Indian population.

Following four phases demonstrate the growth and development of crop-based agriculture in India since Independence.

  1. Shortage and stagnation in production during 1950s with 50.8 million tons food grains production in 1950-51 and per hectare productivity of 522 kg.
  2. The period of Green Revolution witnessing increasing production of food grains during 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, is characterized by introduction of High Yielding Variety (HYV) of seeds, increased use of fertilizers and improved irrigation.
  3. The period of surplus production after achieving food security and starting of exports of food grains was witnessed in 1980s-2000s.
  4. The era of Technological Advancements and Transformation has been witnessed from 2000 onwards that assured food security and prosperity of farm sector.

2. Growth Drivers

Till the early 1980s, the food grain production in India was driven by growth in area under cultivation. Green revolution lead growth in productivity was the main driver of increase in production for three decades ending 2011. However, over the recent past decade the gradual tapering off the productivity has been noted on account of sub-optimal use of agricultural inputs and natural resources besides adverse impact of changes in climate. This transformation has been possible due to significant change in access to a range of factors of production including land, irrigation water, yield enhancing farm inputs, farm credit and insurance, among others.

2.1 Land holding: The average size of farm holding which was more than two hectares at the time of independence has been consistently declining, reaching the level of about one hectare in 2015-16. Presently Indian agriculture is served by mainly small and marginal farm holdings and has become intensive in nature.

2.2 Access to irrigation water: The net irrigated area in the nation in 1950-51 was only 20.9 million hectares which has now increased to 69.5 million hectares in 2019-20. Improved methods of irrigation have been helpful in producing more per dop of water.

2.3 Access to agrochemicals, fertilizers, and seeds: Major productivity enhancing farm inputs used by farmers include seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides apart from irrigation.

  • Seeds: In the year 1967-68 the area under high yielding variety seeds was only 6.05 million hectares (6.33% per year of crop area) which is estimated to has reached the level of 76 million hectares in 1999-2000. The quantity of certified seed distributed by the government has increased from 0.86 million tonnes in 2000-01 to an impressive level of 3.8 million tonnes in 2019-20. Use of biotechnological methods are now extensive used to produce planting material that is quality and quantity enhancing of farm produce.
  • Fertilizers: Chemical fertilizers have been the key component of the green revolution. The production of primary fertilizer which was hardly one million ton in 1950-51 has increased to 18.5 million tonnes in 2019-20. Similarly, the consumption of fertilizers which was only one million tons in 1950-51 rose to 29.3 million tons in 2019-20. The per hectare fertilizer consumption (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium) was merely 2.17 kg in 1961-62 has reached the level of 134 kg in 2019-20. Innovative products have been developed to improve soil health and farm productivity.
  • Agrochemicals: The agrochemicals are used to prevent losses in farm productivity caused by pests and diseases. Even though the consumption of pesticides has increased from 43.6 thousand tons in 2000-01 to level of 61.7 thousand tons in 2019-20, the per hectare consumption of 0.6 Kg is much lower than the global average of 2.6 Kg per hectare. Lot of innovations have been made in formulation and use of pesticides in the country.

2.4 Access to labor and farm mechanization: In the year 1951 as high as 70% of workforce was employed in agriculture which has declined to 42.3% in 2019. This resulted in shortage of workforce availability for farm operations, necessitating the need for increasing farm mechanization to increase and sustain the improvement in crop productivity. During last three decades or so, the use of improvised machines and renewable source of farm power has grown leaps and bound.

2.5 Access to farm credit and insurance

  • Credit: Agriculture sector till 1960s was largely dependent on non-institutional sources of credit as only 10% of total farm credit was coming from institutional sources. The situation continued to change for better in subsequent decades owing to nationalization of major commercial in 1969, launch of Regional Rural Banks (RRBs), introduction of Kisan Credit Cards, etc. As an outcome, the flow of institutional credit which was Rs. 100 billion in 1990s has increased to Rs. 13.9 trillion in 2019-20.
  • Insurance: Crop insurance in India was, for the first time, started in the year 1972-73 on a small level. The central government implemented a comprehensive crop insurance scheme, “Prime Minister Crop Insurance Scheme (PMFBY)”in 2016-17, premium for which has been subsidized by both the state governments and the national government. The scheme covered the entire crop cycle. These enabled farmers mitigate end-to-end risk.

2.6 Access to markets and post-harvest infrastructure: The agricultural marketing reforms in the country were undertaken initially in terms of enactment of Agriculture Produce Marketing Act (APMC) by different State governments in 1960s (and in 1970s in some states). In the year 2016 the central government launched the electronic National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) to integrate agricultural markets in various parts of the country.

3. Move Towards Smart and Sustainable Agriculture

The current agricultural practices are responsible for high emissions of GHGs, impacting thereby the sustainability of agriculture in the country. It is s reported that livestock sector emits 54.6 % GHGs, fertilizers emit 19.1% GHGs, paddy crop emits 17.5% GHGs, faulty management of manure emits 6.7% and crop residue burning emits 2.2% GHGs. There is therefore a need to evolve and implement a system of agricultural production that not only ensures sustainability of the system but also takes care of resultant ecological, social and economics of farm production. Achievement of sustainability throughout the agricultural value chain needs a long-term vision and strategy that is based on all dimensions of ecology, efficiency consideration of markets, and on government policy that incentivizes farmers and industry both for taking care of first two pillars. Following basic approaches are recommended to be used for making Indian Agriculture sustainable.

3.1. Promotion of Technology, Digitalization and Sustainable Innovation

The new growth trajectory in agriculture calls for scientific mapping and digitization of farm holdings and farm information and value chains by using artificial intelligence and big data analytics. Such a move will facilitate efficient and effective implementation of Government schemes meant for farmers’ welfare including Direct Benefit Transfer. Digitization of agriculture pertains to all farm information regarding their holdings, crops, resources use and farm issues. Digitization will ensure sustainable input use, cut down farm losses and increase productivity on a sustained basis. In extension activities also incorporation of ICT and Smart Digital solutions have proved highly effective.

3.2 Smart digital agriculture

Digitalization of agriculture includes use of digital technology (such as remote sensing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, etc.) in optimizing input use, improving farm productivity, in predictions of weather changes and market intelligence for the benefit of farmers as well as consumers. Mapping of farm boundaries, measuring of nutrients, humidity and moisture in soil and identification of plant health is made easy by using drones and sensors. Forecast techniques are available and can be made use of to forecast weather, farm prices and market demand and supply to benefit farmers. Digitalisation of agriculture enables prediction of extreme climatic events facilitating farmers to act appropriately to manage against the same.

Audience Take Away:

  • History and Importance of Indian Agriculture
  • Drivers of economic and physical transformation in Indian Agriculture since Independence
  • Components of technological growth in India
  • Way forward for Indian Agriculture.


Dr. V P S Arora, Professor Emeritus and Principal Advisor to Shri Venkateshwara Group of Institutions was working till recently as Professor Emeritus and Advisor, Sharda University, Gautam Budh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh. He earned his Bachelors’, Masters’ and Doctoral degrees from G B Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar (Uttarakhand), the first Farm University of India. He also completed Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing Management from a Central University. Dr Arora served Pantnagar University for over 33 years as Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor, Head of Department of Agricultural Economics and Dean College of Agribusiness Management. In Pantnagar University Prof Arora was also tasked with the responsibilities of several administrative positions including Registrar, Coordinator Admissions, Establishment Officer, Chief Vigilance Officer, Chief Personnel Officer, Chief Security Officer, Chief Reception Officer, Director Administration and Director Monitoring. He also chaired the standing statutory committees of the University on Admissions, Examinations, Academic Policies, Negotiations etc.

Dr Arora was the founder Dean of College of Agribusiness Management and its flagship Program of M B A (Agribusiness), first of its kind under the ICAR-SAU system of the country. He successfully undertook international consulting projects of IRRI (Philippines), OECD (France), APO (Japan), FAO (Rome) and ADB (Manila). Dr. Arora has over 47 years of professional experience in academics at reputed national and global institutions of higher learning. Dr Arora served Alemaya/ Haramaya University, Ethiopia as Visiting Professor for a period of four years (2000-02 and 2017-19). Dr Arora also served leading private Universities - Amity University as Dean Academics and Sharda University as Professor Emeritus, Director IQAC and Advisor.

Dr Arora joined Kumaun University (a State University of Uttarakhand) as its Vice Chancellor in 2009 and created number of milestones therein including creation of Directorates of Placement and Counselling, Research and Extension, Information and Communication Technology, and Quality Assurance; introduced semester system at post graduate level, and brought discipline and transparency in academics, examinations, assessment, and administration. He had been Pro-Chancellor and Vice Chancellor of Shri Venkateshwara University Uttar Pradesh, Pro-Chancellor of Venkateshwara Open University, Itanagar, Mentor/ President, Centre for Education Growth and Research, Director, Nainital Bank Limited and Director, Jasmine Mega Structures Private Limited.

Dr Arora has honour of addressing UN University, Tokyo on Agricultural Policies in South Asia, and OECD Member Countries on India’s Agricultural Policies (at OECD, Paris). Dr Arora successfully conducted 13 Research Projects and 7 Consulting Projects, supervised 24 PhD Scholars, authored/ edited / reviewed 10 Books, 21 chapters in Books, and over 100 research papers. He was the Chief Editor of two CEGR Text Books entitled Higher Education: Leadership and Management and Research Methodology.

He served on a number of committees, constituted by the Government of Uttarakhand, UGC, ICAR, AICTE, CII, Professional Societies, and Other Universities. Dr. Arora has been conferred with numerous awards and honours including Dr Rajendra Prasad Award for best original book in Hindi (1994-96), Life Time Achievement Awards (2009 and 2020), Uttarakhand Ratan Award (2011), Higher Education Leadership Award (2016), Outstanding Alumnus Award of Pantnagar University (2020), Outstanding Alumnus Award of College of Agriculture (2019) and Best Paper Awards. He had been the Conference President of Indian Society of Agricultural Marketing (2010), and Conference President of Agricultural Economics Research Association (2013). He has been Vice President (as also on the Editorial Board of journals published thereby) of professional societies like Indian Society of Agricultural Economics, Indian Society of Agricultural Marketing, and Agricultural Economics Research Association.

Signup for updates

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive emails and notifications from Magnus Group. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the Safe Unsubscribe link, found at the bottom of every email