Agriculture Creating New Opportunities For Livelihood

The vast Indo-Gangetic Plain, extending from Punjab to Assam, is most intensively farmed zone of the world. Since independence contribution of agriculture to GDP has seen a decline, even after the green revolution. Our economic security concerns still depend upon agriculture as still 58% of the population is dependent on Agriculture compared to 75% at the time of independence. Around 51% of Indias geographical area is already under cultivation as compared to 11% of the world average. India leads the world in production of a few agriculture commodities. It is the largest producer in the world of milk, cashew nuts, coconut, tea, ginger, turmeric and black pepper. It is the second largest producer of wheat, rice, sugar, groundnut and inland fish. It is the third largest producer of tobacco. India accounts for 10 per cent of the world’s fruit production, ranking first in production of banana and sapota. The total food production in India is likely to double in the next ten years and there is an opportunity for large investments in food processing technologies, skills and equipment, especially in areas of Canning, Dairy and Food Processing, Specialty Processing, Packaging, Frozen Food/Refrigeration and Thermo Processing, Fruits & Vegetables, Fisheries, Milk & Milk Products, Meat & Poultry, Packaged/Convenience Foods, vegetable production, organic farming ,agriculture waste management,vermi-compost,production of Alcoholic Beverages & Soft Drinks and Grains are important sub-sectors of the food processing industry.

The potential that the country has is yet to be exploited for best output . If we look at it as livelihood activity we find 50 percent of the population contributing only 17% of the GDP. The agriculture growth is less than the growth of the economy. In spite of having good percentage of fertile soil, average yield in India is about 30% to 50% than that of world. So what are the factors that Govt. agencies and NGOs need to look at before implementing agro based livelihood projects?

UN establishes that India needs to do resource mobilization, improve project management and implementation in rural areas. Like providing advanced farming skills to farmers, irrigation facilities to overcome water shortage, proper storage facilities, better market linkages and high value for the produce, improve availability of high-yield varieties of seeds and advanced research and development should be done to improve per-hectare yield of crops in India. The govt. and research institutes are working on stem cell research, nanotechnology to improve the yield but our nation is much dependent on the monsoon and major areas of the country are facing severe droughts.

Despite various schemes like Gramin Bhandaran Yojna, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, National Food Security Mission, National Horticulture Mission etc. and increased grant allocation from Rs 5560.00 crore in 2007-08 to Rs. 20208.00 crore in 2012-13 still everyday there are news of farmer suicides and why not when farmers earn merely Rs 1500 per month. Efforts should be made by Government, Donors, CSR organizations, NGOs to increase their income by enhancing their skills in modern agricultural techniques and practices which would increase the yield, contract farming, group farming, cooperatives, multi cropping techniques, production of cash crops, credit facilities etc. should be promoted so that the risks can be mitigated and their standard of living can be improved. Packaging and marketing of the produce should be the priority. One Block One Product is an efficient way to promote produces at national and international level. The ambitious project of connecting the major rivers should be implemented before its too late. With all these efforts we hope that the present situation gets better and the Agriculture sector gets revamped.