India has ever remained and shall ever remain a country of the farmers. India lives in the villages; hence it is that the village uplift with the increase in agricultural production alone can solve India’s economic problems.
Industrialization is the need of the times but in India the basic situation is that we cannot go on with industrialization at the cost of neglect of agriculture. Our agricultural development is the backbone of our economy.
Statistically studied by such expert, committees and organizations as the National Income Committee and the Central Statistical Organization it has been found that agricultural contributed to around 57 per cent towards the national income. These studies were conducted as far back as in 1950-51.
The First Five Year Plan (1951-56) placed before itself a two-fold objective — to check the economic disequilibrium caused by the World War II and the second was to begin the process of a balanced development which would ensure a rising national income.
Even the Planning Commission set up by the Government of India in 1950 also envisaged among its objectives the most effective and balanced utilization of the country’s resources’.
The First Five Year Plan accorded the highest priority to agriculture. Large Scale food grains had to be imported in 1951 to supplement the domestic production. Good harvests in the country improved the food production and the Planning Commission at the end of the First Five Year Plan observed that’ the increase in agricultural production had helped to end inflation, stabilize the economy and prepare the way for a higher rate of development during the Second Five Year Plan’.
But in 1955, certain natural calamities like floods; drought and cyclone in some parts of the country like Rajasthan, Bihar, Orissa and Tamil Nadu created such a food shortage that India had to enter into an agreement with US known as the PL-480 agreement for the import of wheat and rice. This loan period lasted for about ten years and India had to depend for its food grain supply on US.
Even during the Third Five Year Plan due to the unscrupulous attitude of the trading community resorting to hoarding and black marketing, the situation did not see any improvement. Huge quantities of food grains had to be imported and the Indian economy suffered a setback.
But gradually with the introduction of the high-yield variety of seeds, use of fertilizers, and pesticides, improved agricultural techniques, mechanized farming, adoption of double and even multiple cropping practices, agricultural production was greatly improved with the agencies like the Food Corporation of India, the Fertilizer Corporation of India, the Warehousing Corporations and a number of Cooperative agencies, the Government was able to build up a strong marketing structure.
The food policy in the country has three essential instruments — production and supply of food grains, consumption of food grains and distribution of food grains. On all the three fronts, the leap forward was taken and success was achieved.
As with the latest statistical data 67 per cent of the population in India still depends upon agriculture, the national income and the national economy gets finally determined by how and what gets achieved in this sector.
Apart from those directly involved in the production process — the farmers — there are a number of others who also depend upon agriculture. Those engaged in agro-based industries, those who transport food grains, those who conduct their marketing, those who regulate the entire process right from production to distribution and consumption in such a large country as ours, have to depend upon agriculture and the total economy of the country depends upon the improved economy of all these involved and engaged in these activities.
Then there are export related non-food grain crops — like tea, coffee, oil cakes, fruits, and vegetables and then such products like cotton, jute, sugarcane, spices also relate to and affect the agricultural sector and help in the growth of the national income — the national economy.
Right from the Third Five Year Plan and now we have ushered into the Tenth Five Year Plan, all that was needed to be done has been done to boost up the agricultural economy. The emphasis on agricultural has always been there and never did our planners ignore this sector; rather gave this all the priority.
The ‘Intensive Agricultural Area Programme’ (IAAP), the National Seed Corporation, the Agricultural Prices Commission, the National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD) — all these were efforts for establishing a ‘self-reliant and self-generating economy’.
The only imbalance with which our agricultural policy has suffered has been that all the schemes and plans helped the rich farmers but the inputs of these schemes have not reached the poorer and the less resourceful farmers. This is why, inspire of all efforts, production did not record that high percentage as it was intended to or expected to.
Agricultural production depends upon two factors, first productivity of the land and the second productivity of the agricultural laborite first improved a lot but not the second. There has been an increased Pressure on land and the marginal farmers still had to depend upon their old-methods of agriculture and upon the rain god.
The other factor which had largely gone against the improvement in the economy of the marginal farmers is the over-population factor. Inspire of all programmes and all persuasions the family-planning has not succeeded that much in the rural areas, as it should have.
Still it is so encouraging to watch that Indian Agricultural economy has come to stand on its own legs and that is such a welcome sign in relation with the total national economy.
Even when an economic embargo got imposed after the Pokhran II test, the economy of the country has stood sound and stable. The agricultural management has much to be given a pat on the back for keeping the nation’s economy stable.
Agriculture has remained and shall remain the bulwark against all odds — that is the lesson that the country has come to learn.