Indian Agriculture in a Dilemma
India is still an agricultural country
India is an agricultural country. Nobody can dispute this fact, since over 70 percent of the Indian population still depends on agriculture.
Factors that led to agricultural prosperity
There has been a big boost in the Indian agricultural produce over the years. There is no disputing this fact also. No doubt, several factors, such as agricultural universities, construction of dams, use of new, improved technologies and equipment, tube-wells, fertilizers, seeds, new agricultural and irrigational methods, loans to farmers and creating awakening among them, etc. have all helped in changing India from a food importing to a food surplus country. I
The role of monsoon and Poor crop management
Still, one important factor, which has not been recognized or only half-heartedly recognized, is the condescended of the monsoon (rain) god to appear on the scene incessantly for about a decade and a half. Only a few times, this god played truant in certain states like Gujarat and Orissa and we had the well-deserved famines for having not been able to devise any means to do without this god largely, if not completely. – Another strange fact about Indian agriculture is that there is no crop management worth the name. If one year there is a boom of a particular crop in the market, the next year, the farmers will not sow it in large quantities, such that there will be scarcity in the market and the prices of that crop will shoot up and the poor people will be badly hit. This is what happened in the case of potatoes.
This also happened because some unscrupulous traders, took advantage of the shortage in the market, creating more scarcity by hoarding the potatoes.
This act of the unscrupulous hoarders while benefiting only themselves, caused great misery to the consumers when even the producers were not benefited in any way.
Sometimes, the government’s lopsided policies only help the unscrupulous hoarders who grow fat at the cost of poor consumers and farmers. A few years ago the crop of onions in Gujarat and Maharashtra was spoiled due to adverse climatic conditions while the government had laid stress on exports and had taken no steps to store the product which was needed by every housewife in the kitchen.
Most pitiably, the government and the producers or others concerned, even more than 55 years after Independence, have not been able to find out adequate remedial means when a particular crop is destroyed by rains, drought, pests and insects, floods, etc.
Claims of superiority hollow
It is quite clear that the Indian agriculture which boasts of being number one in the world is not that in reality. It will be an empty boast to claim superiority for all times to come. Indian agriculture which still largely depends upon the monsoon is quite hollow at the core. Add to it the machinations of bureaucracy and disinterestedness of leaders and powers that be and a lack of awakening among the mass.
This is not to underestimate the achievements of our scientists and others in boosting Indian agriculture. One can only say that in the field of agriculture: “Much has been done but much more remains to be done.”
The glut of food grains in the country poses a big dilemma to the government. Now efforts are being made to shift some areas of land in the northern region from wheat and rice-producing crops to such crops as pulses, oil seeds, medicinal plants and herbs, horticulture, etc.
Lack of adequate preservation and processing facilities.
The lack of adequate food preservation and processing facilities in India causes alternate gluts and scarcity in different crops during different years. This causes misery to farmers and consumers alike, besides being a perennial dilemma for them.