India is the largest agricultural powerhouse worldwide and the leading producer of spices, pulses, and milk. Not only that, our country has the largest area that is used to cultivate cotton, wheat, and rice. Agricultural held almost 75% share in India’s GDP a few decades ago. To this day, the share has gone down to around 14%. However, agriculture continues to be the source of livelihood for about 50% of the working population, three-quarters of which is based in the rural parts of India.
In a nutshell, agricultural is vast industry and has an impact on every citizen of the country, either directly or indirectly. Like any other sector, agriculture too has its own set of challenges, some of which are very critical and impeding. Let’s take a look at some of the major problems that India faces in relation to agriculture and their possible solutions.
Fragmented Land Holdings
The net area under cultivation is close to 141 million hectares. However, its immensity diminishes with the fact that a vast number of land holdings are fragmented to an extent of being rendered economically unviable. This is a prime reason that agriculture instruments in India cannot be used effectively. Division of land by the virtue of inheritance has given rise to the problem. Irrigation and mechanized farming is next to impossible on such fragmented farms.
Consolidation of fragmented farm lands at the grass-root level under the supervision of the government is the best solution. Consolidation can be done via co-operative farming, corporate farming, and collaborative farming. The use of sophisticated farm machinery and equipment will help the marginal farmers to increase the agricultural productivity.
Supply Channel Bottlenecks
Indian agricultural industry is riddled with bottlenecks at every step. The supply channel is inefficient because of the greedy middlemen involved in the marketing process. It compels the farmers to make distress sale. They have to sell their produce at whatever prices they are offered, which ultimately diminishes their income.
To solve the issue of supply chain bottlenecks, the government has started regulating the market. Competitive buying, elimination of malpractices, use to standardized weights and measures, enhanced dispute settlement system are the essence of the strategy.
Lack of Storage Facilities
The lack of proper storage facilities results in degradation of the quality of the produce. This, in turn, affects the volume of exports causing loss of potential income. Not to mention wastage of the produce. Estimates say that 9.3% of the produce gets wasted because of improper storage and maintenance.
To solve the issue, there is an ongoing effort initiated by the Food Corporation of India, the State Warehousing Corporation and the Central Warehousing Corporation to expand the storage facilities and establish a buffer stock for contingencies.
Lack of Sufficient Irrigation Facility
After China, India has the largest cultivated area that has irrigation facility. However, it covers only one-third of the total cultivated area. A major proportion of farming activities still depends on the monsoon. The irregularities of the monsoon can destroy the crops and cause hefty losses to the farmers.
To tackle the problem of dependence on monsoon, the government has been expanding the implementation of the irrigation facility through the Prime Minister Krishi Sinchai Yojana.
Over-Dependence on Traditional Crops
As mentioned before, India produces rice and wheat in abundance. Some regions can easily adapt to facilitate the growth of new crops that can yield a higher quantity of produce. Farmers are resistant or hesitant to give it a try. Endorsing associations of commodity-based farmers and spreading awareness is a very effective way to overcome the over-dependence on traditional crops. The seed banks are playing a crucial role in helping farmers switch to other varieties of crops to facilitate a smooth transition.