Land reform was the main focus of the First Five Year Plan. Vinoba Bhave started the Bhoodan Andolan to encourage big landlords to donate a part of their land to the landless farmers. Many people came out in support of Vinoba Bhave and donated land.
Small plot size hampers proper farm management. To improve the condition, the government brought certain measures for land reform. In some states, land was redistributed so that all of the land owned by a farmer could come on a single plot. The reform was successful in some states (like Punjab and UP) but could not be implemented throughout the country, because of poor response by farmers.
Green Revolution: Green Revolution was started in the 1960s and 1970s to improve farm output. Use of new technology and HYV seeds was encouraged. Green revolution produced very good results; especially in Punjab and Haryana.
White Revolution: White Revolution (Operation Flood) was initiated to improve milk production in the country.
A comprehensive land development programme was launched in the 1980s and 1990s. These programmes included both institutional and technical reforms. Provision for crop insurance was made against drought, flood, cyclone, fire and disease. Gramin banks and cooperative societies were opened in rural areas so that farmers could get access to loan facilities.
Kissan Credit Card (KCC), Personal Accident Insurance Scheme (PAIS) and many other schemes were introduced for the benefit of farmers.
The government owned radio and TV channels broadcast special weather bulletins and agricultural programmes. Government also announced MSP (Minimum Support Price) so that farmers can be saved from exploitation by middlemen.
Current Scenario: The growth in agricultural sector is going down. Reduction in import duties on agricultural products means that farmers are facing tough competition from international markets. Investment is not coming into agriculture and hence employment opportunities are also showing de-growth in this sector.
The share of agriculture in GDP has being declining from 1951 onwards. Yet it continues to be the largest employer. About 63% of the total workforce was employed in agriculture in 2001. A decline agriculture can be an alarming situation because it has wider implications for the whole economy.
Government is making continuous efforts to modernize agriculture. ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research), agricultural universities, veterinary services, animal breeding centres, horticulture development, R& D in the field of meteorology, etc. are given top priority with an aim to improve Indian agriculture. Government is also taking measures to improve rural infrastructure.
In order to ensure food security to all sections of society, the government has carefully designed a national food security system. It has two components:
Buffer Stock: Once the government procures food grains through FCI (Food Corporation of India), buffer stock is maintained at various locations. This stock is utilised in case of food shortage at any place. This stock is also utilised in case of natural disasters; like flood and drought.
Public Distribution System: PDS is a programme which provides food grains and other essential commodities at subsidised prices to poor people in rural and urban areas. A person needs to get a ratio card made to avail the benefits of PDS. Separate cards are made for BPL (Below Poverty Line) and APL (Above Poverty Line) families. The PDS is also fed by the FCI.
More and more farmers are now shifting towards cultivation of fruits, vegetables, oilseeds and industrial crops. While this is good from a farmer’s income perspective, it is dangerous for food security in the country.
Impact of globalisation are being felt since historic times. When European traders first came in India, black pepper and spices were the main items of export. During British rule, India became a net exporter of raw materials; especially cotton. Due to high demand of indigo in British textiles industry, the farmers in India were forced to grow indigo. This interferred with cereal production in India
In the modern context, Indian farmers are unable to compete with western farmers because of very high level of subsidies for farmers in the west. Due to this, demand for Indian farm produce is very low in international market. Moreover, excessive use of synthetic fertilisers, irrigation, etc. has created its own problems; which are evident by falling level of farm production. Too many people are dependent on farm land in India and hence per capita farm production is forecasted to decrease further.
Experts suggest that organic farming is the way out of the problem.
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