State of Agriculture: Major Crops and Farming Sector
Agriculture is the backbone of Indian economy. Agricultural development is central to all strategies for planned development. It contributes 27 percent of the overall GDP and accounts for employment of 67 percent of the Indian population. Vast areas of India have tropical and agro-climatic conditions which are well suited for cultivation of horticulture and plantation crops. The horticulture sector contributes about 24.5 per cent towards agriculture GDP from only about 8 per cent of the cultivated area. Besides, providing nutritional and livelihood security and helping poverty alleviation and employment generation, this sub-sector sustains a large number of agro-industries, which generate huge additional non-farming employment opportunities. The range of horticultural products includes fruits, vegetables, spices, coconut, medicinal and aromatic plants, mushrooms, cashew, cocoa etc. India accounts for 10 per cent of the world production of fruits and stands second after Brazil; and is the second largest producer of vegetables after China, contributing 13.4 per cent of the world’s vegetable production. A tremendous boost was given to the development of the horticulture sector during the Eighth and Ninth Plans. The Ninth Plan allocation was raised to Rs. 1,400 crore from Rs. 1,000 crore in the Eighth Plan. This sector has had impressive impact in the wake of economic liberalization. The high level of land productivity in many parts of the country can be largely attributed to the growing of high value horticulture crops.
Tranformations in the global food system are causing changes in food production and marketing in India. There is a growing domestic market for horticultural produce, in both traditional and exotic vegetables. Production and marketing arrangements are responding to changing demand, driven by urbanization and diet change. Government-sponsored schemes in horticulture have mixed results, generating more jobs than cereal production.
Beyond direct government interventions, new forms of contractual and sharecropping relationships are emerging between private dealers and farmers.