Agricultural Production –its growth and stagnation
The present level of agricultural production is far from satisfactory, for the present as also for the future requirements. The large imports of food grains only till recently and that of non-food grains like edible oils, cotton, etc., at present, pin point not only the need for raising domestic production, but these also indicate roughly the extent of shortages in these goods. The present large stocks of food grains with the government have no doubt eliminated the need for these imports except for certain items like pulse is not adequate for healthy living. These are then the need arising out of rising population. The need in India is for more of every crop, and of new crops. This poses a bigger challenge of using optimally the scarce land, in the sense that the production of all crops has to be raised, and as per the present and future needs of the economy. To begin with necessary to concern ourselves with the quantification of the needs of the most important component ofagricultural output namely food grains. For this, one can do no better than turn to the targets set by the planning commission for five year (1978-83)plan. This will indicate the step up needed to achieve the targeted figure. The remedial action necessary to boost agriculture production need to be taken along several lines with most of them bearing upon the improvement in the yield per hectare. These range from improving the environment to the better use of land and application of modern inputs alongside modern agronomic practices.Favorable man made climate. The first and foremost step to be taken is to improve upon the general environment surrounding agriculture, so that the tiller puts in the best, necessary investments get attracted and bear adequate fruits, modern techniques and practices are sought and adopted. The second thing that can make farming an attractive proposition is related to prices that will determine the level of living of the farmer. The sale price of his produce, the costs he incurs on inputs, and the purchase prices of the consumer goods that the farmer buys are the key factors in determining the profitability of his produce and the amount of goods that he can command. Extension and optimal use of land. However of key importance is the optimum use of land. Consistent with the eco system, this implies action along several lines which ensures that the productive capability is continuously improved and maintained. The most important single factor that can render miracles in the field of production is the extension of new agricultural technology. Advance on this front requires to be made along several lines. One, the use of the new technology already in operation in certain areas, needs to be further intensified.
Indian economy is basically an agricultural economy. A substantial portion ofIndia’s national income comes from the agricultural sector. A vast majority of India’s population is dependent on agriculture for its livelihood. Agriculture also provides employment opportunities to many, both directly and indirectly.
The production and marketing of agricultural goods poses certain peculiar problems for the producers. This is mainly because the agricultural goods possess certain peculiar characteristics. These are as follows
Agricultural goods are quickly perishable. These are bulky in nature. It is difficult to control both quality and quantity of output. Product differentiation is not possible. Nature plays a crucial role in production. Agricultural goods have inelastic demand.
Seasonal production:Unlike consumer goods and industrial goods which are produced throughout the year, agricultural goods can be produced only during a specific period in ayear. These are summer cropsand winter crops. Certain crops need lot of water. There are others that require only minimum water. In view of all these differences, all the crops cannot be grown in all the months in a year.
Difficult to control production: In the case of consumer and industrial goods it is possible for the producer to exercise direct control over production. But in the case of agricultural goods nature plays a vital role in production. If the cultivator has sown the seeds and is awaiting rains, failure of rains will hamper production. Agricultural production is much dependent on the availability of abundant water. Availability of water depends on rainfall.
Difficult to control quality and quantity of output:The producers of consumer and industrial goods can control both quality of output. This is not that easy in the case of agriculture production. Even if the producer uses good quality seeds, fertilizer and manures, the quality and quantity of output are determined mainly by natural factors.
Long waiting period Production of consumer and industrial goods takes place almost continuously on a daily basis. But in the case of agricultural goods, the gestation period is too long. Thus, continuous production cannot be thought of.
Loss of crops due to pests and animals:The crops need to be protected from pests and animals. Every year, farmers suffer heavy loss of revenues due to crop loss caused by the activities of pests, insects and animals. To protect their crops, farmers, therefore, use pesticides, insecticides and so on. They also use electrical fences to safeguard their crops from cows, elephant and other animals.
Loss of production due to litigation:Another peculiar problem in agricultural production is the there is always litigation between the farmers over the land territory and other such issues. As a result, they may have to spend lot of time, money and efforts to win legal battles. This affects the time available for production and thereby affects output.
Small scale production:In India the number of small and marginal farmers in larger than the number of big landlords. The small and marginal farmers hardly own few acres of land. The quantity of output they turn out is hardly sufficient for their family needs. In fact, most of these people produce for their families rather than for the markets.
Use of primitive techniques of production:In developed countries, agriculture gets the same importance that the industry gets. But in India, although industrial development has reached a significant level, agriculture still remains a neglected sector. The farmers follow the conventional methods of production which affect the field. They do not have access to the latest machines and equipment because they cannot afford to have these.
Ignorance of the producers: Producers of consumer and industrial goods have greater awareness than the producers of agricultural goods. As a result, the former can adapt to any kind of situation and come out of the problem.
For example the producers of consumer and industrial goods can modify or update their products in tune with the demand and market trend. But the farmers are conservatives. They cannot adapt themselves to changes. They prefer to grow the same crop they grow every year.
Lack of collective bargaining:Industrialists have their own associations through which they represent all their grievances to government and are able to find a solution to any problem, but in the case of agriculture, the farmers do not have any such prominent association. As a result, although they have grievances, they are not in a position to represent the same in a proper manner.