Indian agriculture was traditional and stagnant in every respect on the eve of Independence in 1947. It was characterized by feudal land relations and primitive technology, resulting in low productivity per hectare of land.
Agricultural policy followed since Independence can be broadly classified into three phases. Phase one, immediately after Independence, witnessed several institutional changes through land reforms and initiation of major irrigation projects. The second phase, since the mid-1960s, was aimed at increasing agricultural productivity to attain self-sufficiency in foodgrains through technological revolution and Government support for credit, marketing, and extension services. This was followed by the current phase, since the late 1980s, aimed at making agriculture more market-oriented.
Agricultural sector occupies a key position in the Indian economy. It provides employment to about 65 percent of the working population of India. Agriculture being a State subject, the bulk of public investment in agriculture takes place at the level of States and the Central Government supports the States as a catalyst.
The Approach Paper to Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-17) released by the Planning Commission in October 2011 expressed concern at the slow growth of agriculture and allied activities in recent years. The Approach Paper attributed current increase in food prices to below target growth of the agricultural sector and stressed the need to "redouble efforts to achieve at least 4 percent average growth rate in the farm sector in the coming years". Though agriculture has now shrunk as a proportion of GDP to 13.9 percent, it is a vital sector and provider of livelihood for 2/3rd of India's working population.
Unfortunately, Indian economy is witnessing loss of dynamism in the agriculture and allied sectors in recent years. The sector, as a whole, has showed poor performance in the recent years. Signs of agrarian distress are visible in some years. The spate of suicides by farmers in many areas is the most disconcerting manifestation of this distress. Marginal and small farmers have borne the brunt of the adverse circumstances in agriculture.
The Government of India has launched the National Food Security Mission and the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana to rejuvenate agriculture and improve farm income. Accelerating the growth rate of agricultural production is seen as central to a more inclusive growth.
The present work traces developments in Indian agriculture during the post-Independence period. It explains the key reform measures undertaken for the modernization of agriculture. The book contains 26 chapters which provide a detailed description of the various aspects of agriculture in India. In addition, there are 4 appendices to the book. Appendix 1 reproduces text of the National Policy for Farmers, 2007. Appendix 2 provides year-wise review of agricultural developments in India, covering the period 1947-48 to 2011-12. Appendix 3 contains edited extracts from India's Five Year Plans on Agriculture and Allied Activities (I to XII Plan). Appendix 4 comprises glossary of agricultural terms. A section on time-series data (1950-51 to 2010-11) on Indian agriculture also forms part of the book.