Agriculture still employs around 49 percent of India's employable population. However, the biggest problem with agriculture is that it has been growing at a very slow pace in recent times. During the year 2014-15 agriculture grew only at the rate of 1.1 percent.
With an aim to give a boost to the agriculture sector Narendra Modi Government launched the ambitious Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana to achieve convergence of investments in irrigation at field level, expand cultivable area under assured irrigation. The plan with an outlay of Rs. 50,000 crore to be spend over a period of five year (2015-16 to 2019-20 was approved.
To top it Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana was also launched so that farmers pay minimum premium and get maximum insurance. The previous insurance schemes for farmers were not successful as the premium rates were high and claim value was low. Also the schemes did not cover localised crop loss.
The result was that less than 20 percent farmers only opted for insurance scheme. PM Modi assured the farmers that new scheme addressed all the issues that the farmers faced previously.
Horticulture as Indian farming's bright spot:
It will be right to say that horticulture is one area which is showing great improvement as production of fruits and vegetables overtook India's food grain production by 31 million tonnes in 2014-15. This was the third consecutive year that showed improvement in the production of fruits and vegetables.
This increase has been made possible by the fact that eight vegetables that make up 74% of the total vegetable production in the country have 73% access to irrigation.
Success in increasing food grain production:
Good news for Modi government is that despite drought conditions India's food grain production for the year 2015-16 showed a marginal increase than the overall production in the year 2014-15. This year the food grain production was 253.16 million tonnes.
It has been reported that wheat, rice, coarse cereals and pulses are part of the foodgrain basket. Wheat output is projected to go up by 8.42 per cent to 93.82 MT in 2015-16, from 86.53 MT in the previous year. Total pulses production of 17.33 mt during 2015-16 is marginally higher than the previous year's production of 17.15 mt.
However, it should be noted that, estimated output this year is still 4.5% lower than the record production of 265 mt in 2013-14, a normal monsoon year. It has also been reported that, "This year, rainfall deficiency was 14 per cent".
It was also reported that Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh in an interview to PTI has said that,
"Overall food grain output is likely to be better than last year despite deficit monsoon for two straight years. Since February-March is crucial for wheat crops, we hope there would be no unseasonal weather conditions like hailstorm that we witnessed last year".
The government has fixed the food grain procurement targets for the 2016-17 marketing year. For wheat, the procurement target is 30 million tonnes (MT) as against 28.08 MT in the current year.
The target was set after meeting with officials from key wheat producing states like Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The target for grain procurement both by the Food Corporation of India and state government owned agencies was fixed.
Many want 4 percent growth in agriculture:
Many feel that Modi government should achieve at least 4 percent growth in agriculture on a sustainable basis despite the drought years. They feel that only then the farmer groups which were great supporters of the government will not feel that government has deserted them.
Before evaluating the government on development in the agriculture sector it should be borne in mind that the present government had inherited the sector which was in very bad shape and the situation has been made worse by bad monsoons and low international commodity prices. However, only visionary can show path in adverse time and so has the government shown that despite all the adverse conditions the sector is showing some improvements.