Kurukshetra July 2023





Agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy, employing more than half of the country's population.

Sustainable agriculture is a farming method that considers the soil, the environment, and the community's long-term health. It is critical to meet rising food demand while protecting natural resources for future generations

Traditional agricultural practices in India are frequently unsustainable and can negatively affect the environment and human health. Sustainable agricultural practices are required to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in India.

According to the World Bank, as of 2020, 42.1% of the Indian population was employed in agriculture.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Growth Rate in India

Per capita GDP measures the average economic output per person in a given country or region. 

The agriculture sector's contribution to per capita GDP in India has declined over the years as the country has diversified its economy and developed other sectors such as services and manufacturing. 

The Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MoSPI) estimates that the GVA of agriculture and related sectors was 20.2% in 2020-21, 19.8% in 2021-22, and again decreased to 18.3% in 2022-23.

The BRIC countries GDP growth rate is far greater than that of traditionally strong economies such as the USA and Germany. While the US has the world’s largest economy by almost any measure, China has the second-largest share of global GDP.

Several initiatives, including the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, and the National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) platform, have been launched by the Government to promote the development of the agriculture sector. These initiatives aim to increase farmer productivity, reduce risks, and increase income in India.

Some ways in which technology can help in sustainable farming:

1. Precision Farming- It involves sensors, GPs mapping, and data analytics to monitor and optimise crop performance.

2. Agroforestry- It is a land-use integrated management system that combines trees and shrubs with crops and livestock to create a more sustainable and productive farming system.

3. Vertical Farming- It cultivates crops in stacked layers, usually under controlled conditions. It can reduce the need for pesticides and herbicides while increasing crop yields and lowering transportation costs.

4. Hydroponics- It involves growing plants in nutrient rich water without soil. This approach can reduce water use, increase yields, and allow for year-round crop production.

5. Renewable Energy-based – It can be used to power farming operations. It can reduce greenhouse gas emission and dependence on fossil fuels.

6. Robotics and Automation-based: It can help reduce labour costs, improve crop yields, and reduce use of fertilisers and pesticide.

Gaps Identified in Adopting Sustainable Agriculture Development

1. Lack of awareness and knowledge- Many farmers must know the benefits of sustainable agriculture practices or how to implement them effectively.

2. Limited Access to Finance: Small and marginal farmers need more access to finance to make these investments.

3. Inadequate Policy and Regulatory Framework: Adopting sustainable agriculture practices is not always supported by India's policy, and the regulatory framework does not always support adopting sustainable agriculture practices.

4. Limited Research and Development: There is a need for more investment in disseminating research findings and developing extension services to help farmers adopt these practices.

5. Lack of Infrastructure and Technical Support: Adopting sustainable agriculture practices often requires significant infrastructure and technical support. 

6. Low Productivity: Agriculture in India is characterised by low productivity, a significant impediment to its growth and development.

7. Fragmented Landholdings: It has made it difficult for farmers to access credit and other support services.

8. Lack of Market Access:  Resulting in lower incomes for farmers and higher food prices for consumers.

9. Inadequate Infrastructure: This makes it difficult for farmers to transport their produce to markets, store it safely, and sell it later.

10. Climate Change: The changing weather patterns, including erratic rainfall and rising temperatures, affect crop productivity and increase farmers' vulnerability.

Improving Dissemination of Technological Information to Farmers

According to a survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation, only 6% of farmers in India have access to information on modern agricultural practices.

To address this issue, the Government of India has launched several initiatives, such as the Kisan Call Centre and the mKisan portal, which provide farmers with information on a wide range of agricultural topics, including weather forecasting, market prices, and pest and disease management.

Conclusion- Farmers can develop sustainable farming systems that promote environmental, social, and economic sustainability by adopting advanced technologies. Sustainable agriculture practices have the potential to boost agricultural productivity, reduce production costs, and enhance the quality of crops. It may also promote the production of healthier and safer foods, which is beneficial to public health.



The food security challenge will only become more difficult, as the world will need to produce about 70 per cent more food by 2050 to feed an estimated 9 billion people, while the population is projected to reach 11 billion in 2100 (UN Population Division report).

It has been predicted that the temperature will rise 2-5°C in the future by 2100 (IPCC, 2014).

Global Warming Challenge

The situation for agri-production is a two-way challenge: first, to shield the production from the effects of global warming, and second, to increase the production for a larger population in the years to come despite the symptoms of global warming.

It is estimated that without the use of CO, fertilisation, efficient solutions, and genetic transformation, each 1°C rise in the global mean temperature reduces global maize yield by 7.4%, wheat yield by 6.0%, rice yield by 6.2%, and soybean yield by 3.1%. 

An increase in the average temperature of 2°C could lead to 20-40% reductions in cereal grain output, notably in Asia and Africa. 

The fifth assessment report (ARS) by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2018) predicts that the temperature will increase by 2.5-5.8°C before 2100.

Agriculture is as much responsible for the rapid deterioration of normal weather conditions as it is for being negatively impacted by global warming. 

According to IPCC, 2013, agriculture, forestry, and the change of land-use, account for as much as 25% of human-induced GHG emissions.

Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA)- It is a range of agricultural practices with the integrated approach to managing landscapes- cropland, livestocks, forests and fisheries, that address the interlinked challenges for food security and climate change.

It targets 3 outcomes – 

a. Increased Productivity

b. Enhanced resilience- developing crops that could sustain extreme weather conditions.

c. Reduced emission- as agriculture is also responsible for global warming. Finding ways to reduce emission per kilo of food produced, avoid deforestation, identify ways to absorb carbon out from the atmosphere.

To effectively implement a climate-smart agriculture strategy, there are some components that are recommended by FAO:

a. Conservation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture

b. Crop variant development

c. Seed production and delivery

Integrated Pest Management

It is an ecosystem approach to crop production and protection. It is based on the careful consideration of all available pest management techniques.

It involves the use of appropriate measures to discourage the development of pest populations, and keep pesticides and other interventions to levels that are economically justified, reduce or minimise risks to human health and the environment, and disrupt the agricultural ecosystem as little as possible.

Improved Water Use and Management

Water resource management can be achieved through measures that conserve soil and water, with deficit irrigation that can maximise crop yields per volume of water applied; and/or more efficient irrigation technologies that can reduce unproductive evaporation losses.

Sustainable Soil and Land Management

Soil protection can be achieved by practising direct seeding in combination with the sustainable management of crop residues within a broader framework of integrated soil fertility management.

Sustainable Mechanization

It increases efficiency in the various production and processing operations and in the production, extraction, and transport of agricultural inputs, including coal and oil.

The timely availability of agricultural equipment, such as drills, harvesters, and threshers, permits producers to plant, harvest, and process crops in an efficient manner. This increases yields and reduces post-harvest losses.

In India, the countrywide decline in major crop yields due to climate change effects between 2010 and 2039 could be as high as 9%, worsening further with time. The loss can be up to 35% for rice, 20 per cent for wheat, 50% for sorghum, 13% for barley, and 60% for maize, depending on the location and future climatic scenario, according to a reference note uploaded on the Lok Sabha website. 

The Productivity of most crops is likely to decrease 10-40% by 2100 due to increase in temperature, rainfall variability, and decreases in irrigation water.

The major impacts of climate change will be on rainfed or un-irrigated crops, which are cultivated on nearly 60% of cropland.

The Government of India's economic survey (2018) estimated that the annual loss of US$ 9-10 billion was due to the adverse effects of climate change.

Initiatives by Government towards achieving Climate-Smart Agriculture

1. National Innovation on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA):  The project aims to enhance the resilience of Indian agriculture, covering crops, livestock, and fisheries to climatic variability and climate change through development and application of improved production and risk management technologies.

2. National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA): It aims at promoting location specific improved agronomic practices through soil health management, enhanced water use efficiency, judicious use of chemicals, and crop diversification.

3. National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC): It was established to meet the cost of adaptation to climate change for the State and Union Territories of India that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

4. Climate Smart Village (CSV): It is an institutional approach to test, implement, modify, and promote CSA at the local level and to enhance farmers’ abilities to adapt to climate change.

5. Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojna (PKVY): It aims at supporting and promoting organic farming through adoption of organic villages by cluster approach, which in turn results in improvement of soil health.

6. Biotech-KISAN: It is a scientist-farmer partnership scheme launched in 2017 for agriculture innovation with an objective to connect science laboratories with the farmers to find out innovative solutions and technologies to be applied at farm level.

7. Sub-Mission on Agroforestry: This Mission was launched during 2016-17 with the objective of planting trees on farm bunds. 

8. National Livestock Mission: It focuses mainly on livestock development through sustainable approach ultimately protecting the natural environment, ensuring bio-security, conserving animal biodiversity and farmers' livelihood.

9. National Water Mission (NWM): A Mission was launched to ensure Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) for conserving the water sources and minimising its wastage and to optimise Water Use Efficiency (WUE) by 20% including agriculture sector.


Dryland farming refers to the cultivation of crops under natural rainfall conditions without or very scanty irrigation. 

Dryland areas are characterised by low rainfall within a range of 375 mm to 1125 mm, which are unevenly distributed, highly erratic, and uncertain.

These areas have generally poor or degraded soils with low water holding capacities and multiple nutrient deficiencies.

Dryland areas are often more prone to drought and drought-like conditions due to poor and weak structure of soil and depleting ground water tables.

The soils of drylands are generally deficient in major nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus.

Dryland farming is one such practice which has assumed especial importance in view of the looming crisis of global warming and climate change.

Advantages of Dryland Farming-

It helps conserve water resources, minimises soil erosion and promotes sustainable agriculture. 

It can help mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting soil carbon sequestration.

It helps increase the amount of organic matter in the soil, improving its fertility, and structure.

It has potential to increase food production and address the problem of hunger and malnutrition.

Distribution and Contributions

Dry farming is practised in areas where the annual rainfall is less than 750 mm and the crop growing season is less than 200 days. It is generally practised in arid regions of the country.

Cultivation receiving rainfall in the range of 750 mm to 1150 mm is known as ‘dryland farming’. Crops in areas of semi-arid regions of the country are included under this category. 

Rainfed farming is a practice of crop cultivation without irrigation in areas receiving rainfall in the range of around 1150 mm. Most of its cultivation area falls in the humid and sub-humid regions of the country.

As per estimates, nearly 40 per cent of the net sown area in India will remain rainfed even after realising the full potential of irrigation.

Dryland agriculture is producing nearly 44 per cent of the total food grains in the country.

There is a vast scope to increase the productivity of dryland agriculture from the current average of 1.2 tonnes per hectare to 2.0 tonnes per hectare. 

According to experts, this potential can easily be achieved by inclusion of new technologies, diversification of crops, adoption of drought-tolerant varieties, and implementation of moisture retention techniques in the field.

Millets are traditional and staple crops of dryland, and they are the most popular due to their specific attributes which suit these regions. 

Millets, now also called Shri Anna are annual, short-duration (75 to 120 days) rainfed crops that grow well on shallow, low-fertility soils. Millets have a very low water requirement and can be grown even under extremely high temperatures and low rainfall.

Oilseeds are major crops in rainfed regions, grown mainly with low levels of input usage. Oilseed crops are mostly cultivated on marginal lands by resource-poor small farmers in biotically stressed conditions.

India has registered a compound annual growth rate of 7.7 per cent in vegetable oil production from 2015-16 to 2020-21. The- improvement in production of oilseeds in rainfed regions will save valuable foreign exchange reserves, as India is still importing oilseeds to meet domestic demand.

Mulching is a common dryland technique to conserve moisture in the soil by preventing evaporation. Mulch is a material, generally straw, leaves, or plastic, that is spread over the soil's surface to prevent its natural exposure to sunlight. Mulch also helps to keep the roots of plants cooler, which can help them survive during periods of drought.

Way Forward- Dryland farming is challenging with many constraints, but with the understanding of local climate and soil conditions, the selection of suitable crops, and the use of appropriate technologies, dryland farmers can produce bountiful crops even in the driest conditions. By adopting a suitable integrated farming model, dryland farmers can grow multiple crops in a single season with extra horticultural or livestock production.



Sustainable Agriculture- Sustainable agricultural development is the management and conservation of the natural resource base and the orientation of technological and institutional change in such a manner as to ensure the attainment and continued satisfaction of human needs for present and future generations. Such development conserves land, water, plant, and animal genetic resources, is environmentally non-degrading, technically appropriate, economically viable, and socially acceptable.

Five Major Principles of Sustainable Agriculture

1. Continuous production of crops.

2. Protection and conservation of natural resources like soil, water etc.

3. Improve the social and economic well-being of the people.

4. Use state-of-art technology.

5. Require government support for the institutional changes in production, marketing, law enforcement etc.

Three Basic Pillars of Sustainable Agriculture

1. Economy: This ensures the growth and profitability of the business for the farmers through the efficient use of viable resources.

2. Society: This pillar ensures enough food for the world’s growing population and fair employment and compensation opportunities for the local community.

3. Environment: This pillar ensures the environment’s protection through ecologically sound farming practices and less use of replenishable resources.


  • These practices protect natural ecosystems, help in maintaining soil integrity by preventing soil erosion and nutrient depletion.
  • support biodiversity and create close-to-natural conditions for livestock.
  • reduce water pollution and air contamination, and save nonrenewable resources.
  • ensure food security in the long run by increasing production in a sustainable manner, 
  • decreasing the burden on the farmer by reducing the cost of production, and making them self-reliant by reducing their dependency on fossil fuels.

Some Major Sustainable Agriculture Practices:

  1. Crop Rotation and Crop Diversity: It leads to healthier soil and improved pest control. It includes intercropping and complex multilayer crop rotations.
  2. Water and Energy-efficient Irrigation Techniques: It is carried out through planting less water-consuming crop species and implementing smart irrigation techniques. Also, the use of solar power in pumping the water can reduce the dependence of farmers on petroleum and diesel.
  3. Reducing or Eliminating Tillage: No-till or reduced-till methods, which involve inserting seeds directly into undisturbed soil, can reduce erosion and improve soil health.
  4. Integrating Livestock and Crops: It serves two purposes: livestock can feed on the by-products of the farms, and crops can receive abundantly rich natural fertiliser and manure. It can make farms more efficient and profitable.
  5. Adopting Agroforestry: Planting trees along with the crops not only conserves the soil cover and local water resources but also provides an additional source of income to the farmers.
  6. Grow the Cover Crops: By sowing cover crops off-season, farmers can protect their fields from soil erosion and soil degradation. 
  7. Integrated Pest Management system: It reduces pest infestations by applying different agronomic techniques, which may include crop rotation, planting pest-resistant species, or pre-treated seeds. It reduces the exposure of farmers to chemicals, saving soil from harsh elements like pesticides, and, reducing water, air, and soil pollution.

Use/Role of technology in Sustainable Agriculture- Technology in the field of agriculture has affected the productivity of agriculture and thus acts as the backbone of sustainable agriculture. It involves-

1. Development of nutrients.

2. Development of Pest control methods,

3. Development of agriculture-related machinery and equipment,

4. Development of genetically modified crops providing greater nutritional efficiency.

5. Manipulation of natural pest control agents,

6. Discovering efficient farm management techniques that focus on whole farm productivity over time.

7. The use of computational technology, combined with geographical location devices and remote sensing advancements will help the genetically modified seeds provide site-specific solutions.

8. The use of environment modelling along with risk management algorithms will assist farmers in combating the uncertainties related to drought, flood etc.


Objectives of mission- 

It aims at enhancing agricultural productivity especially in rainfed areas focusing on integrated farming, water use efficiency, soil health management and synergizing resource conservation.

To adopt comprehensive soil health management practices based on soil fertility maps, soil test-based application of macro & micro nutrients, judicious use of fertilisers, etc.

Optimise utilisation of water resources through efficient water management for achieving ‘Per Drop More Crop’.

Components of Mission- 

1. Rainfed Area Development (RAD) – It will adopt an area-based approach for development and conservation of natural resources along with farming systems. It will introduce appropriate farming systems by integrating multiple components of agriculture such as crops, horticulture, livestock, fishery, forestry with agro based income generating activities and value addition.

2. Sub-Mission on Agroforestry – It aims to encourage tree plantation on farm land “Har Medh Par Ped”, along with crops/ cropping system. It will result in providing additional income opportunities for farmers, increase in tree cover, higher carbon sequestration and help in enriching soil organic matter.

3. National Bamboo Mission (NBM)- Bamboo is a versatile group of plants which is capable of providing ecological, economic and livelihood security to the people. India has the highest area (13.96 million ha) under bamboo and is the second richest country, after China, in terms of bamboo diversity with 136 species (125 indigenous and 11 exotic).

4. Soil Health Management (SHM)- It will aim at promoting location as well as crop specific sustainable soil health management including residue management, organic farming practices by way of creating and linking soil fertility maps with macro-micro nutrient management, appropriate land use based on land capability, judicious application of fertilisers and minimising the soil erosion/degradation.

5. Climate Change and Sustainable Agriculture: Monitoring, Modeling and Networking (CCSAMMN)- It will provide creation and bidirectional (land/farmers to research/scientific establishments and vice versa) dissemination of climate change related information and knowledge by way of piloting climate change adaptation/mitigation research/model projects in the domain of climate smart sustainable management practices and integrated farming system suitable to local agro-climatic conditions. 

Major challenges/ roadblocks- 

1. Low budgetary allocation to NMSA.

2. SAPs are mostly knowledge-intensive which is the challenge to most of the people to adopt it.

3. Capacity building challenge faced by government authorities.

4. SAPs are not protected by any set of guidelines or policies from the government.

5. They are labour-intensive, which may hinder their adoption by medium to large farmers.

6. Lack of awareness among farmers for climate-resilient farm practices.

Way Forward and Key Recommendations-

1. Rainfed areas should be focused on as the area of primary gain because they are already performing low-resource agriculture.

2. Authorities should prepare the full taxonomy for sustainable agriculture in India. It includes policies, guidelines, and legal frameworks.

3. Proper focus should be kept on knowledge exchange and capacity building among farmers and agriculture extension workers.

4. Financial support should be provided for research in the field of sustainable agriculture.

5. Use of technology in this field to support formalisation of aggrotech should be made for the leveraging of data and technology.


  • Organic Agriculture is defined as ‘a system of farm design and management to create an ecosystem that can achieve sustainable productivity without the use of artificial off-farm inputs such as chemical fertilisers and pesticides.” 
  • Organic farming is considered a climate-friendly farming practice that promotes low external input usage, recycling, reuse, and reduced use of synthetics in farming.
  • India holds a unique position among the 187 countries practising organic agriculture. India is home to 30% of total organic producers in the world: 27, 59,660 total farmers, 1703 total processors and 745 traders. 
  • However, organic farming is at a nascent stage in India. About 2.30 million hectares of farmland was under organic cultivation as of March 2019. This is 2 percent of the 140.1 million ha net sown area in the country.

Government Schemes: Government has launched several schemes to promote organic farming, two of which are-

1. Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY)

2. Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER)

Both schemes stress on end-to-end support for farmers engaged in organic farming, i.e., from production to processing, certification, marketing, and post-harvest management support, including processing. PKVY is being implemented in all the states other than North Eastern (NE) states, while the MOVCDNER scheme is implemented exclusively in the NE states.

Increasing acreage-

A cumulative area of 29.41 lakh ha, 38.19 lakh ha, and 59.12 lakh ha has been brought under organic cultivation in the last three years (2019- 20, 2020-21, and 2021-22) using organic manure and other organic inputs, which constitute 2.10%, 2.72%, and 4.22% of the cultivable land of 140 million ha. 

Since 2015-16, an area of 11.85 lakh ha has been brought under organic farming through the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) scheme, and the Government also intends to bring another 6.00 lakh ha area under organic farming through PMKVY during the period from 2022-23 to 2025-26.

Madhya Pradesh tops the list with 0.76 million ha of area under organic cultivation, which is over 27 per cent of India’s total organic cultivation area. The top three states-Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra-account for about half the area under organic cultivation.

During 2016, Sikkim achieved a remarkable distinction of converting its entire cultivable land (more than 75000 ha) under organic certification.

Global Organic Market & Exports from India

As per the latest report published by International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) Germany and FiBL Switzerland in 2022, the global organic market has been growing at a CAGR of 8.7% during the last six years (2015-2020). 

Market size has grown from US $ 84 billion in 2015 to US $ 129 billion in 2020, suggesting that the demand for organic products has increased all over the world.

India produced around 3430735.65 MT in 2021-22 of certified organic products, which includes Oil Seeds, fibre, Sugar cane, Cereals & Millets, Cotton, Pulses, Aromatic & Medicinal Plants, Tea, Coffee, Fruits, Spices, Dry Fruits, Vegetables, Processed foods, etc.

Organic production is not limited to the edible sector but also produces organic cotton fibre, functional food products, etc. The organic food export realisation was around Rs. 5249Cr.ore3 (2US D 771.96 million).

The primary reason for India’s relatively low share in world organic exports is our huge domestic consumption base for agriculture products, including organic products, due to our large population base. According to an IMARC report, the Indian organic food market is expected to exhibit a CAGR of 25.25% during 2022-2027.

To promote direct marketing of organic products from the farmers to the end consumers, a dedicated web portal- www.Jaivikkheti.in/ has been created to help farmers get a better price for their organic products.

2 Types of Organic Certification system-

1. Third Party Certification by Accredited Certification Agency under the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for development of the export market.

2. Participatory Guarantee System (PGS-India) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare for meeting the demand of the domestic market.


India has been the largest producer of millets globally. 

Three varieties of millet, viz., pearl millet (bajra), sorghum (jowar), and finger millet (ragi), constitute the largest share of India’s total millet production.

Out of these prime varieties of India Millets, Bajra and jowar together contribute about 19 percent of the world’s production. 

Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand are the major millet-producing States in India. These states accounted for around 98 % of the production of millets in the country in 2020-21.

Out of the total area in the world under millet production and the total millet production in the world, India constitutes 19 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively. 

The average productivity in India is higher at 1,239 kilogram per hectare (kg/ha), compared to the world average of 1,229 kg/ha.

Millets consist of various small-seeded plants, including pearl, sorghum, foxtail, finger, barnyard, etc., and are also interchangeably referred to as nutri-cereals, super-foods, and Shree Anna.

Nutritional enrichment, an 'environment friendly' cropping pattern, and remunerative considerations comprise the trinity that forms the foundation of the recent drive to promote millets.

Year 2023 being declared as the International Year of Millets.

Nutritional Value of Millets

These nutri-cereals have the potential to bring nutritional balance to our diet. Most millets have high contents of proteins, fibres, vitamins, and essential minerals and are an attractive gluten-free substitute for cereals.

Environmentally Sustainable

These cereals have the capacity to reduce overdependence on more commonly raised water-guzzling crops like rice, boosting diverse diets, and ensuring food security for all.

It can be grown in varied landforms and climatic conditions, thereby ensuring environmental adaptability. 

They are resistant to drought and most pests.

Irrigation requirements for some millets are relatively lower than those for paddy and wheat.

Also, millets as compared to rice and wheat require a shorter duration between sowing and harvesting.

Pricing of Millets- From 2014-15 to 2023-24, while the MSP for paddy increased 1.6 times, those for jowar, bajra and ragi increased by 2.1, 2.0 and 2.5 times, respectively. Evidently, the return over cost is the highest in the case of bajra.

Promoting Millets Production- 

The area under cultivation of millets in India has ranged between 12.3 and 15.5 million hectares from 2013-14 to 2021-22. 

In 2022-23, India’s production of millets was 159 lakh ton, as per advance estimates. 

The production target fixed by the Government for 2022-23 was 205 lakh ton.

In terms of total production of millets, the figures increased from 137 lakh ton in 2018-19 to 160 in 2021-22, with a productivity enhancement from 1,163 kg/ha to 1,239 kg/ha over the same period.

Awareness to Boost Millet Consumption- Government of India has taken a number of diverse steps, which range from augmenting productivity to ensuring nutritional enhancement

These include inter-State and advance subsidy, encouraging procurement and distribution under the Targeted Public Distribution System, 

Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman, Integrated Child Development Services, implementing Submission on Nutri-Cereals (Millets) under National Food Security Mission, issuing directives regarding promoting millets in canteens of Central Public Sector Enterprises, inclusion of millets in mid-day meals, promoting value-added millet products, 

Organizing Global Millets Conference in New Delhi in March 2023, facilitating buyer-seller meets, organising promotional campaigns, designing innovative ready-to-eat and ready-to-serve processed millet products

Inclusion of millets in ‘One District One Product’, 

Accentuating the role of media in promotion of millets, etc. 

Further, Budget 2023-24 had announced that the Indian Institute of Millet Research in Hyderabad will be supported as the Centre of Excellence for sharing best practices, research, and technologies at the international level.

Conclusion- A renewed emphasis on millets has the potential of generating positive externalities in the form of better nutrition for citizens, environmental sustainability, retention of soil fertility, and better incomes for the cultivators.



The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30% leading to higher agricultural output in developing countries and a dramatic reduction in hunger.

Women's role has been growing with the ‘feminization of agriculture’ as men are migrating to urban areas in search of productive employment, leaving women to manage the farmlands.

Some challenges faced by rural women are: -

1. Lack of Recognition of Women's Role

2. Skill Development

3. Land Ownership and Records: However, only 13.9 per cent of the operational holdings are owned by women, which reflects the gender disparity in ownership.

4. Poor Credit: Microfinance and other credit facilities are largely inaccessible to women due to their lack of ownership of assets.

5. Inequality in Market Access-Indian female farmers are significantly less mobile than men, which may limit their access to marketplaces.

NABARD's SHG- Bank Linkage programme to solve the issue of access to credit of women farmers and self-help groups (SHGs) by relaxing the requirement of collateral for extending loans has definitely proved to be a remarkable milestone. 

The adoption of NABARD's Joint Liability Group (JLG) Ram Rahim model by Kerala's Kudumbshree accelerated the pace of empowerment among women farmers who undertook collective farming under the model.

National Rural Livelihood Mission aims to empower poor women farmers to enhance participation, improve productivity, and pursue sustainable livelihoods through systematic investment in building knowledge, skills, and capacities.

Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana, has helped over 8.6 million SHG women access resources and services for enhanced agricultural productivity.

The Government of India has started celebrating October 15 a Rashtriya Mahila Kisan Divas since 2016.

Skill Development Schemes for women-

Support to State Extension Programmes for Extension Reforms (ATMA Scheme) under Sub-mission on Agriculture Extension (SAME).

Skill training courses in State Agricultural Management and Extension Training (SAMETIs), Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), and State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) across the country. 

The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) implemented by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, provides several short duration skill training programmes.

Prime Minister Mahila Shakti Kendra Yojana, with a view to reach out to rural women and facilitate health, nutrition, skill development, employment, digital literacy, etc., has been further extended for the current FY 2023-24 also. 

The Biotech-Krishi Innovation Science Application Network (Biotech-KISAN) Programme was initiated by the Department of Biotechnology to provide scientific solutions to farmers in the north-east region to link available innovative agriculture technologies to the farm with the small and marginal farmers, especially women farmers of the region.

Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao scheme has provided a significant mass mobilisation drive towards the elimination of gender discrimination and an improved sex ratio at birth.

Schemes like Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, Rashtriya Mahila Kosh, Swadhar Grih Scheme, Ujjawala Yojana, Women Helpline, and Gender Budgeting Scheme, implemented by the Central Government, are building confidence in women farmers.

World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index 2022, we find improvement of five places since 2021 on better performance in areas of economic participation and opportunity.



Agriculture has always been a crucial sector in the Indian economy. It, along with the allied sectors, plays a strategic role in the process of economic development by bolstering national income, output, employment, and foreign exchange earnings.

The real gross value added (RGVA) at constant prices by the primary sector (including agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining & quarrying) which was to the tune of Rs. 3,09,778 crore in 1950-51, went up to Rs. 24,37,680 crore in 2021-22, registering compound growth rate of 2.91 per cent per annum.

The share of the farm sector in employment generation has decelerated from 69.40 per cent in 1950-51 to 45.5 per cent in 2021-22 as per the NSSO’s latest annual Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) report for 2021-22. 

The contribution of agriculture and allied sectors to foreign exchange earnings has also declined from 44.24 per cent in 1960-61 to 11.94 per cent in 2021-22.

Trends in Agricultural Production

  • Total foodgrain production in the country has increased significantly from 50.8 million tonnes in 1950-51 to 315.62 million tonnes in 2021-22, demonstrating an annual compound growth rate of 2.61 percent.
  • India has emerged as the largest producer of pulses in the world despite modest growth in its production.
  • India's foodgrain production has outpaced its population growth, with a compound growth rate of 2.61 per cent per annum as compared to the population growth rate of 1.95 per cent from 1951 to 2022.
  • Per capita per day availability of foodgrains has increased from 395 grams in 1951 to 514.5 grams in 2022.
  • Among commercial crops, potato witnessed the highest annual compound growth rate of 5.01 per cent followed by rubber (3.97%) and cotton (3.33%) from 2050-51 to 2021-22.
  • Oilseed production experienced an annual growth rate of 2.83 per cent, rising from 5.2 million tonnes to 37.7 million tonnes during the period under reference.
  • Sugarcane production increased from 57.1 million tonnes to 431.8 million tonnes, yielding a growth rate of 2.89 percent per annum. Furthermore Cotton witnessed a growth rate of 3.33 percent per annum, resulting in an increase in production from 3.04 million bales to 31.2 million bales in the same context.

Trends in Agriculture Production in India-


Trends in Horticultural Production

  • This sector has experienced unprecedented growth over the past two decades. Total horticultural production in India has reached 342.33 million tonnes in 2021-22 as compared to 145.79 million tonnes in 2001-02, registering an ACGR of 4.36 per cent during this period.
  • Vegetables contribute significantly to India's horticultural production, accounting for nearly 60 per cent of the total output. In 2021-22, vegetable production reached 204.84 million tonnes, cultivated across 11.35 million hectares of land.
  • Fresh fruits, which constitute over 31 per cent of total horticultural production in India. The annual production of fresh fruits has reached an impressive level of 107.24 million tonnes, cultivated across 7.05 million hectares of land.
  • The annual production of loose and cut flowers reached 3.13 million tonnes in 2021-22. 
  • India has emerged as a prominent global producer of fruit and vegetables, securing the second position worldwide, just behind China.
  • India is the largest producer, consumer, and exporter of spice and spice products in the world.

Trends in Livestock Production

  • Livestock plays a vital role in the rural economy, contributing nearly 30 per cent to the overall agricultural and allied sector output in the country. 
  • Over the past two decades, India has consistently been the largest producer of milk in the world, with per capita availability of 427 grams per day as against the world average of 299 grams in 2022-23.
  • India's contribution to global milk production stands at an impressive 23 percent.
  • Total milk production in the country increased from 17 million tonnes in 1950-51 to 221 million tonnes in 2021-22, yielding an impressive growth rate of 3.68 per cent per annum.
  • The egg production in the country has soared from 1,832 million to 1,29,600 million during the period from 1950-51 to 2021-22, showcasing an impressive annual compound growth rate of 6.18 percent.
  • India has become the 3rd largest producer of eggs globally, with per capita availability of 95 eggs per year in 2020-21.
  • With its extensive coastline and diverse inland resources, India has emerged as the second-largest fish-producing country, accounting for 7.58 per cent of global production. In 1950-51, the total fish production in the country was 0.752 million tonnes, which has increased to 16.3 million tonnes in 2021-22, reflecting an annual compound growth rate (ACGR) of 4.42 per cent.
  • During 2021-22, exports of fish and fish preparations stood at 1,398 thousand tonnes and valued at Rs. 57,910 crore.
  • Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF) with an impressive allocation of Rs. 7,522 crore was created in October 2018. The fund aims to elevate annual fish production to 20 million tonnes and generate over 9.40 lakh employment opportunities by 2022-23.

Diversification of Agriculture

  • Agriculture & allied sectors consist of four major sub-sectors namely, crop sector, livestock, forestry, and fisheries.
  • Over the past one decade, these sub-sectors have witnessed significant changes in their contribution to the total Value of Production (VoP) in agriculture.
  • Crop sector's contribution to GVA declined from 67.39 per cent in 2010-11 to 53.89 per cent in 2021-22, while the livestock sector's share in VoP shot up from 19.02 per cent to 30.47 per cent during the same period.
  • Furthermore, the fishing and aquaculture sub-sector also experienced improvement in its contribution from 4.35 per cent to 6.86 per cent over the last decade.

Trends in Agricultural Trade

  • India has not only achieved self-sufficiency in food grains but also emerged as a prominent net exporter of agricultural products, occupying seventh position in the world.
  • The export basket of India includes a diverse range of agricultural and allied products, such as rice, pulses, fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, tobacco, spices, sugar & molasses, cashew, raw cotton, fish, meat, and processed food.
  • Although the overall balance of trade in India has consistently been negative, the trade balance of agricultural goods has not only been positive but also increased nearly 30 times during the last three decades, which reflects the pivotal role of agriculture in generating foreign exchange for the nation.
  • The major export destinations of India’s agriculture and allied products are Bangladesh, China, Iran, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, the Netherland, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, the UK, the USA, and the United Arab Emirates, etc.

Conclusion- In order to enhance agricultural productivity, it is crucial to embrace modern farming practices and employ quality inputs effectively and efficiently. This entails the adoption of HYV seeds, judicious utilisation of water, fertilisers, and pesticides etc.

UPSC Mains Practice Questions-

Q1. What is Agrobiodiversity? Discuss its significance with reference to Climate Change, Poverty and Sustainable Agriculture.

Q2. Explain the term 'sustainable agriculture'? Suggest strategies to make agriculture in India sustainable.

Q3. How can the ‘Digital India’ programme help farmers to improve farm productivity and income? What steps has the Government taken in this regard? (2015)

Q4. What are the main bottlenecks in upstream and downstream process of marketing of agricultural products in India? (2022)