Farming India-Some More Data

In 2011-12, Nitish Kumar not the chief minister but a farmer from Darveshpura village in Nalanda in Bihar produced 224 quintals (22. 4 tons) of paddy in a hectare using the system of rice intensification (SRI). Kumar shattered the world record of 194 qt/ha registered by China’s ‘father of rice’ Yuvan Longping. However, the Chinese didn’t recognize the same.

Rakesh Kumar of Sohdih some kms away in Nalanda produced 1, 088 qt/ha of potato this year breaking the world record of the Darveshpur farmer Nitish Kumar whose potato yield last year was 729 qt/ha, taking the record from a Dutch.

A revolution of sort is going on in the agricultural fields in different parts of India. Here are some interesting data about India:

About 60 per cent of Indians earn their living through agriculture.

More than half of India’s population spends more than half of its income on food.

Agriculture is the key to over 600 million people that half the population of this country.

Agriculture contributes only about 14 per cent to India’s GDP. Over 600 million people are engaged to produce this.

Agricultural growth has improved from an average of 2. 7 percent in 2002-2007 to 3. 6 percent in 2007-2012.

Just 2. 5 per cent of households in rural areas operate almost a third of the land. 80 per cent of households operate less than a hectare of land each. This includes some 45 per cent of the total who are landless.

A recent estimate says that in the five decades since Independence, 3. 68 million hectares (ha) land was declared surplus under land ceiling laws, of which 2. 3 million ha were actually taken over and 1. 8 million ha distributed among roughly 5 million beneficiaries.

Recent agricultural census data shows increasing fragmentation of land with the number of marginal farms (0. 5 to 1 ha) zooming up by 143 per cent, and the small farms (1 to 2 ha) going up by 82 per cent between 1970-71 and 2010-11. Large farms (> 10 ha) declined by 39 per cent in the same period.

56 per cent of food grains are produced from 47 million hectares (Mha) of irrigated land while the rest – 44 per cent – is produced from 95 Mha of rain-fed land. Food grain output could double simply by making available adequate and timely water for crops.

The country has an ultimate irrigation potential of about 140 Mha. Till the end of the Tenth Plan, over 21 Mha still remained to be developed. Shockingly, utilization efficiency of irrigation has dipped from 1 (full utilization) in 1951 to about 0. 83 currently.

Since 1996, Rs 45, 552 crore have been spent on 96 projects that are lying in different stages of incompleteness. Estimated costs for completing them would go up by 35 per cent.

In 1980-81, gross capital formation, GCF in agriculture was about 11 per cent of the agriculture GDP. In 1980-81, public and private investments in agriculture were about 50 percent each.

By 1996-97, GCF as a share of agricultural GDP had dropped to just 8 per cent. It revived after that and touched a high of 20 per cent in 2009-10, and is currently hovering around that mark. But there is a change in its composition: public investment component is down to just 25 per cent and private investment is up to nearly 75 per cent.

India has very low productivity or yield in food grains. China produced about seven tons of rice per hectare – nearly double the amount produced in India. The US produces nearly eight tons per hectare. In wheat, India is able to manage about three tons per hectare, compared to China’s five, France 6. 5 and Germany’s seven tons per hectare.

India now produces quality ingredients for Italian cooking such rucola and even a range of culinary herbs such as fresh basil, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, etc. A farm in nearby Chattarpur had seeded a crop of Italian tomatoes and the first ever organic San Marzano is also grown in India.

For example, Usha Farms in nearby Bijwasan has recently introduced a range of superb exotic mushrooms, like shiitake, shiimeji, portobello and oyster. In Punjab (around Nabha) and Himachal Pradesh (in Palampur), farmers have started growing 15 different crops, including Tuscan black cabbage, the gourmet green mache, beef steak tomatoes, micro cress and celery, amongst others

And Spaghetti Kitchen has tied up with farmers in Himachal Pradesh for herbs, vendors in Pune for vegetables and sources in Orissa for prawns from the Chilka Lake.

And for something about the entrepreneurial Indians, many Indian farmers are investing in and tilling fertile tracts in countries as far afield as Georgia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Bolivia and Uruguay. Probably about 4, 000 farmers, mostly Sikhs from Punjab, have invested in farmland in Georgia.

Is it not an impressive saga of Indian farming?

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