Agriculture has been a source of income for a significant percentage of India’s population for centuries. A large mass of irrigable land, geographically varying climatic conditions and a sizeable population belonging to the labour workforce ensured that India became an agricultural country.
Although the country has developed greatly over the years, both indigenously and globally, agriculture still remains a dominant part of the economy and the demographic. Today, about 60-70% of the country’s population depends on agriculture to make a living. This includes direct occupations such as farming and indirect means like crop distribution, manufacture of farming equipment and other agriculture related activities. About half of this percentage comprises of small and marginal farmers.
A small farmer is defined as a farmer who is currently cultivating a land of 1 hectare (2.5 acres) or less. A marginal farmer is one who is currently cultivating a land of 2 hectares (5 acres) or less. As can be derived from the pie-chart above, 60% of India’s farming population falls into the ‘small farmer’ category, followed by 19% in the ‘marginal farmer’ category. The following bar graph further proves this point. The highest percentage of farmers is found in the lowest land holding category.
The graph shows that 34.9% farmers have land holdings ranging from 0.4 to 1.0 hectares, followed by 31.9% with land holdings between 0.01 and 0.4 hectares. Clearly, India has a much higher percentage of small and marginal farmers as compared to large farmers.
Given that 180 million Indian farmers and their families are dependent on agriculture as a means of livelihood, the number approaches a staggering 700 million of the total 1.25 billion population of the country.
Crop Production and Yield
India produces a large variety of crops such as rice, wheat, maize, bajra, jowar, coarse cereals, groundnuts, soya bean, mustard, oil seeds, sugarcane, pulses, jute, tea, coffee, rubber and cotton. Given the diverse geographical conditions prevalent in the country, different states are famous for different crops. Here’s a graph depicting the crop-wise distribution of agricultural land in India.
The reasons for India’s low crop yields
In 2013, India exported agricultural produce to the tune of $39 billion, making it the seventh largest exporter worldwide.
However, given the fact that India is a predominantly agricultural country with the ability to grow such a large variety of crops, it does not feature as one of the top producers in the world. It lags far behind other comparable countries such as the USA and China, even with respect to major crops such as rice, wheat, coarse grain and oilseeds.
Low yield can have a variety of reasons, such as lack of fertile soil, low quality of seeds, drought, availability of irrigation, etc. These reasons are largely dependent on the prevailing geographical conditions of the region. However, one of the main reasons that has nothing to do with geographical conditions, and is in fact man-made, is the low level of mechanisation.
Importance of mechanisation
As mentioned earlier, a good portion of the total farming population in the country is made up of small and marginal farmers. These farmers have lower earnings than medium and large farmers. As a result, they cannot afford to purchase farming equipment to carry out their daily work.
They resort to methods such as hiring tractors, using bullocks and bullock carts or hiring manual farm labour. However, these methods have their own drawbacks. Since the cultivation season has a small time frame, all farmers look to hire tractors during that time, leading to limited availability. Maintaining bullocks proves to be an expensive affair, and hiring manual labour is tedious and at times, unproductive.
This leads to lower yield for small and marginal farmers, which further compromises their financial position. To tackle this issue, KMW recently launched their innovative farm machine, MEGA T, which has the price of a tiller and the functionality, comfort and ease of use of a tractor.
Mega T has been designed to address four main areas of concern, viz. comfort, safety, ease of use and pride of ownership. These were found lacking in regular power tillers that are walk-behind machines that are tedious, hard to operate and unsafe. The Mega T is lighter in weight and smaller in size, yet just as powerful. Moreover, it can boost productivity in areas where bigger machines cannot be used.
KMW believes that with such a pioneering invention, small and marginal farmers can increase their yield, and eventually transform their lives and future.