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Reorienting Indian Agriculture: Challenges and Opportunities

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Despite multiple revolutions, daunting challenges face agriculture. How can it address poverty and hunger, including malnutrition? How much is it responsible for degradation of natural resources (soil, water, agrobiodiversity) and climate change? How can agricultural diversification, and secondary and speciality agriculture help in improving productivity, sustainability and farmer income? Can integrated natural resource management (including conservation agriculture, innovative extension, agricultural education and an enabling policy environment) help achieve resilience and faster agricultural growth?ÊThis book sketches a journey from green to an evergreen revolution through reorientation of Indian agriculture to address emerging challenges. It covers global agriculture, genetic resource management, crop breeding (including biotechnology), seed production technology, agronomy, innovative extension, motivation of youth (including women), climate change and policy reforms for improving farmers' income.ÊThis book is for researchers, students and policymakers interested in agricultural policy, increased food production, rural development and natural resource management, especially: general agriculture, genetic resources, crop breeding, seed development, agricultural biotechnology, agronomy, international agriculture, climate change and sustainable agriculture.

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1 The Indian Agricultural Scenario



The Indian Agricultural Scenario


The agriculture sector is and will remain central to India’s economic development for the foreseeable future. Being the largest private enterprise

(sustaining around 138 million farm families), it contributes around 17.4% of gross domestic product (GDP) and engages around 55% of the workforce (MoA and FW, 2015). Hence, advancement in agriculture and the allied sectors is a necessary condition for inclusive economic growth at the national level. The role of the agricultural sector in alleviating poverty and ensuring household food and nutrition security is very well established.

Indian agricultural systems are predominantly mixed crop-livestock farming systems; the livestock segment supplements farm income

(30–40%) by providing employment, draught animals, milk, manure etc. Over the years, agriculture has become increasingly knowledgeintensive and market-driven. Accordingly, far more innovative research, enabling policies, and effective delivery of services, supplies and markets are prerequisites for accelerating agricultural growth.


2 Agriculture for Achieving Sustainable Development Goals



Agriculture for Achieving Sustainable

Development Goals

The Context

Globally, poverty and hunger are still the twin challenges before human civilization despite specific temporal and spatial efforts. Though extreme poverty has been reduced by more than half since 1992, more than 800 million people live on less than US$1/day and roughly half of the world’s population lives below US$2.50/day.

One in nine people is undernourished. Poor nutrition is the cause of 45% of the deaths among children under the age of 5, nearly 3 million each year. Every 3.5 seconds a child dies due to poverty.

Therefore, it is necessary to produce affordable, nutritional, safe and healthy food more efficiently and sustainably.

Agriculture is facing a bigger threat now than ever before on account of degradation of natural resources, especially land and water, as well as the adverse impact of global climate change. Hence combating climate change, reducing emissions and conserving natural resources, without compromising economic development, especially on the food front, would require a new set of policies, institutional reforms and additional investment in the agricultural sector (NITI


3 Fifty Years of the Green Revolution and Beyond



Fifty Years of the Green Revolution and Beyond


During his speech delivered on the occasion of receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970,

Dr Norman Borlaug prophetically said:

The Green Revolution has won a temporary success in man’s war against hunger and deprivation; it has given man a breathing space.

If fully implemented, the revolution can provide sufficient food for sustenance during the next three decades. But the frightening power of human reproduction must also be curbed; otherwise the success of the Green Revolution will be ephemeral only.

While delivering a special 30th anniversary lecture at the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Oslo, in 2000, he reviewed his prophecy and said:

The world has the technology – either available or well advanced in the research pipeline – to feed on a sustainable basis a population of

10 billion people. The more pertinent question today is whether farmers and ranchers will be permitted to use this new technology. While the affluent nations can certainly afford to adopt ultra-low-risk positions, and pay more for food produced by the so-called ‘organic’ methods, the one billion chronically undernourished people of the low-income, food-deficit nations cannot.


4 Intensive Efforts for Food and Nutrition Security



Intensive Efforts for Food and Nutrition Security

After the Green Revolution, self-sufficiency in foodgrain production was achieved, and the problems of food security were resolved, but in the process, soil texture and useful micro-organisms in the soil were depleted due to nutrient imbalance and excessive use of fertilizers. However, now the scenario has changed, and there are many challenges and concerns that require immediate attention.

The Vision Statement adopted by all the science academies in India was released by Prime

Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during the Indian

Science Congress, in January 2001, where the theme was food, nutrition and environmental security. In India, in fact, the ever-increasing population nullifies all efforts made in this direction.

Every year, the population of India grows by the size of Australia’s population, and it needs an additional 4–5 million t of foodgrains. Many of the other countries do not face such a challenge, even China. A total of 16% of India’s population is sustained by only 2.8% of the land. It is anticipated that India will surpass the population of


5 The White Revolution and Livestock Production



The White Revolution and Livestock


Animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries

­activities, along with agriculture, have been an integral part of human life since the start of civilization. These activities, as well as contributing to the food basket have helped maintain ecological balance. Due to conducive climate and topography, the animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries sectors have played a prominent socioeconomic role in India. Traditional, cultural and religious beliefs have also contributed to the continuance of these activities. In general, the livestock sector’s role is significant in generating household income and gainful employment in the rural sector, particularly among landless, small and marginal farmers, and women, along with providing cheap and nutritious food for millions of people.

Hence, livestock production and agriculture have been intrinsically linked, and both are crucial for overall food security.

The world’s population is currently around


6 Aquaculture Development and the Blue Revolution



Aquaculture Development and the Blue


Role of Aquaculture

India is blessed with huge open-water resources – seas, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and wetlands. Aquaculture in freshwater ponds and tanks covering

2.43 million ha contributes a large share of the total fish production of 11.4 million t (approx.

60%). The country has a coastline of 8118 km and nearly 2 million sq. km of exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and 500,000 sq. km of continental shelf (IASRI, 2016). From these marine resources, India has an estimated fisheries potential of 4.21 million t.  It has an extensive river and canal system consisting of 14 major rivers, 44 medium rivers and numerous small rivers and streams. India experienced a 14-fold increase in fish production in the past six-anda-half decades.

Indian fisheries and aquaculture is an important sector of food production, providing nutritional security to the food basket, contributing to agricultural exports and engaging about


7 Increasing Productivity Growth Rate in Agriculture



Increasing Productivity Growth Rate in Agriculture

In order to obtain a sustained growth rate of

8%, India must accelerate its agricultural growth from the existing level of 2% to 4%. Hence, a mission-­mode programme for faster agricultural growth needs to be introduced as a matter of priority. It will require a dynamic approach focused on planned, coordinated and monitored strategies. ‘Business as usual’ will not suffice (GoI, 2013a).

For meeting the achievable targets, which are not so easy to achieve under existing challenges, the following ten strategic actions are proposed to be rigorously pursued.

Increased Capital Investment in Agriculture

Capital investment in agriculture needs to be increased from the current level of less than 10% to at least 15–20%. Investment in infrastructure in rural areas, especially in the eastern and north-eastern areas, such as in roads, markets, linking farmers to markets (LFM), watersheds, building of modern silos around big mandis/ towns, building of godowns, cold chains for storage and value addition of perishable items, goods trains and air cargo services for quick and efficient transportation/export, would help to accelerate growth in agriculture. Public sector investment is the only option at this critical juncture as expected investment by the private sector is not forthcoming, and without creating minimum


8 Reorienting Agricultural Research for Development for Sustainable Agriculture



Reorienting Agricultural Research for

Development for Sustainable Agriculture

The sharp increases in food prices that have

­occurred in global and national markets in recent years, and the resulting increase in the number of hungry and malnourished people, has sharpened the awareness of policy makers and of the general public to the fragility of the food system.

This awareness must be translated into political will and effective action to render the system

­better-prepared to respond to long-term demand for growth, to be more resilient against various risks that confront agriculture, and to ensure that the ever-growing population will be able to produce and/or have access to adequate food today and in the future. There is a need to address new challenges that transcend the traditional decision-making remit of producers, consumers and policy makers.

Agriculture has remained an integral part of the socioeconomic fabric of rural India since time immemorial,  and occupies centre-stage in the Indian economy as it sustains the livelihood of over 70% of rural households and provides employment for around 50% of the population.


9 Strategies for Scaling Innovations for Impact on Smallholder Farmers



Strategies for Scaling Innovations for Impact on Smallholder Farmers

The Need for Innovation

marginal, having holdings of less than 2 ha, would require technologies by which they can

Accelerating agricultural growth is an important save cost on inputs and have more income goal for most of the nations in achieving the through higher productivity and by linking to

Sustainable Development Goals, especially to markets. Thus, scaling of innovations like hybrid


­remove poverty, achieve zero hunger and ensure technology, conservation agriculture, micro-­ environmental security. Those developing na- irrigation, integrated nutrient management (INM), tions that have reorientated their agricultural IPM, adoption of GM food crops and protected research for development agenda towards scal- cultivation become high priority. For this to haping of innovations have made much faster pro- pen, enabling policy, strong PPP and innovative gress. The greater the emphasis on agricultural extension systems to transfer the right knowlresearch for innovation, the higher has been the edge, especially around secondary and speciality agriculture, will be needed. Moreover, innovagrowth of agricultural GDP (Fan, 2013).


10 Enhancing Productivity of Foodgrains



Enhancing Productivity of Foodgrains

Globally, India is the third-largest producer of cereals, with only China and the USA ahead of it.

India’s population is likely to reach 1.5 billion by

2030 and therefore the challenge facing the country is to produce more and more from diminishing per capita arable land and irrigation water resources and increasing abiotic and biotic stresses.

India produced 277.49 million t of foodgrains in

2017–18 to meet the needs of a current population of 1.34 billion. The current situation in

India is that cereal production has to be doubled by 2050 in order to meet the needs of an expected population of 1.8 billion, in addition to meeting the needs of livestock and poultry. Since land is a shrinking resource for agriculture, the pathway for achieving these goals can only be higher productivity per unit of arable land and irrigation water. Factor productivity will have to be doubled, if the cost of production is to be reasonable and the prices of farm products are to be globally competitive. The average farm size is going down and nearly 80% of farm families belong to the marginal and small-farmer categories. Enhancing small-farm productivity, increasing small-farm income through crop-livestock-aquaculture integrated production systems and multiple livelihood opportunities through agro-processing and biomass utilization, are essential to meet food production targets and for reducing hunger, poverty, nutritional insecurity and rural unemployment.


11 Horticulture for Food and Nutrition Security



Horticulture for Food and Nutrition



India supports more than 17% of the global

­population with only 2.4% land cover. The agricultural sector is an important contributor to the Indian economy (17.6% of GDP), besides providing nearly 54% of the country’s employment. Despite several challenges, namely tumultuous weather, seasonal cyclones, occasional drought, demographic pressure, industrialization, urbanization, unprecedented use of insecticides and pesticides, and compulsion for the migration of people from rural to urban areas, especially for employment, the country witnessed record food grain production of 277.49 million t during 2017–18.

Food and nutritional security are the key

SDGs. There has been appreciable progress on the food front including horticulture. Foodgrain production increased five-fold, horticulture nine-fold, milk six-fold and fish nine-fold in 2015–16, compared with production in 1950–51. However, economic access to nutritious food continues to be a cause of concern. Currently, more than 350 million people continue to suffer from malnutrition, which is a cause of various types of diseases and premature deaths of children and women. Therefore, the country can only be food-secure if the citizens have economic access to nutritious food to meet their physical needs. In this context, horticultural crops (fruits, vegetables, potatoes, tuber crops, mushrooms, plantation crops, spices etc.)


12 Strategies for Enhancing Oilseed Production



Strategies for Enhancing Oilseed



India is among the largest producers and consumers of vegetable oils in the world. Oilseeds have been the ‘backbone’ of the agricultural economy of India. The Indian vegetable oil economy is the fourth largest in the world next to the

USA, China and Brazil. Oilseed crops are the second most important in the Indian agricultural economy next to foodgrains in terms of area and production. At present, more than 27 million ha of land are under oilseed cultivation. The area under oilseeds has been increasing over time and the production has registered a many-fold increase, but its productivity is still low compared to other oilseed-producing countries. Low and fluctuating productivity of oilseeds is primarily because cultivation of oilseed crops is mostly done on marginal lands, which are lacking irrigation and have low levels of inputs. To improve the situation of oilseeds in the country, the government has been pursuing several development programmes: the Oilseed Growers Cooperative


13 Accelerating Forage Crop Production



Accelerating Forage Crop Production


The livestock sector contributes almost 30% to

India’s agricultural GDP and plays a crucial role in national food and nutritional security. The sustainability and viability of livestock production depends on the availability of affordable fodder and feed resources, as they constitute almost

60% of the total expenditure in dairy farming.

Current estimates of fodder crop cultivation, though, may not be accurate, and are not more than 4–5% of the total cultivated area. Punjab,

Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh have a higher share (7–10%). The importance of the silvipastoral farming system is well recognized in the arid regions. In India, rich genetic diversity, institutional infrastructure and competent human resources, besides policy support for linking smallholder farmers to markets, resulted in a ‘White

Revolution’. At present, India is the world’s largest milk producer (producing more than 155 million t p.a.). In spite of all these achievements, dairy farmers are facing challenges of high cost of fodder and feed, non-remunerative price for milk, lesser incentives for value addition and export, lack of credit and insurance, and the adverse impact of climate change.


14 Agricultural Biotechnology for Food and Nutritional Security



Agricultural Biotechnology for Food and Nutritional Security

India, with its 1.34 billion people, is the second most populous country in the world and supports 17.74% of the world’s population (7.55 billion) (United Nations, 2017). Around the world, 815 million people, or about one in ten, are undernourished (FAO et al., 2017). Of these, 23.4% (190.7 million) live in India. The country’s foodgrain production has increased four-fold over the last five decades; but the yield of major foodgrain crops is reaching a plateau, while the population continues to rise and is predicted to reach 1.7 billion by 2050. Hence, there is a need to increase foodgrain production from the current level of 277.49 million t in 2017–18 to 345 million t by 2030. Among staples, India needs to produce 120 million t of rice, 100 million t of wheat and 32 million t of pulses. Since net sown area has reached an optimum level (140 million ha), the only option available is to go vertical by increasing crop productivity through cultivation of high-yielding, more stress-tolerant varieties, which can give desired yields even under adverse growing conditions. In the past, policy makers and scientists rose admirably to the urgent national need for increasing food and agricultural production. The Green Revolution transformed the country from a highly food-deficient country, critically dependent on imports, to a food-­ surplus country.


15 The International Treaty – Current Concerns



The International Treaty – Current


The International Treaty on Plant Genetic

­Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) is a legally binding instrument, adopted by the

FAO Conference in 2001. It came into force on

29 June 2004 and at present has 134 contracting parties. Member states are obliged to

­conserve their plant genetic resources for food and agriculture in accordance with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to ensure their sustainable use and to share benefits arising from their use. The treaty recognizes ‘farmers’ rights’, the traditional rights of farmers as  ­producers, maintainers and developers of


Planning workshops for strengthening national capacities to implement the ITPGRFA was essential to promote participation of countries in the multilateral system of access and benefit sharing and to identify means to improve access to plant genetic resources. For the effective implementation of the multilateral system of access and benefit sharing at country level, there were a number of core requirements to be fulfilled according to the needs of each country. The time has come to move beyond just raising awareness about the ITPGRFA and to develop a road map for its fast and effective implementation.


16 Agrobiodiversity: Dynamic Change Management



Agrobiodiversity: Dynamic Change



Agrobiodiversity has developed as a result of natural selection and human intervention. Its conservation and sustainable use is essential for the survival of humankind. Besides its supporting role in the risk management of millions of smallholder farmers around the globe by assuring their survival and livelihood, it is an important key for adaptation of agriculture to a future changing environment, especially in terms of climate change and diseases. During the past few decades, agrobiodiversity has decreased at an alarming rate and losses are increasing rapidly in the areas where it has often been very rich.

Modernization and intensification, mechanization and monoculture, lack of knowledge and incentives for conservation have reduced access to genetic resources and their free use; and other processes of social and economic change have affected agrobiodiversity. As the world is dynamic, the need for diversity is continuous and increasing owing to the increasing number of people to be fed, kept warm, housed and cured.


17 Managing Agrobiodiversity through Use: Changing Paradigms



Managing Agrobiodiversity through

Use: Changing Paradigms

First, a clear understanding between biodiversity and agrobiodiversity needs to be grasped.

Biodiversity is essential for food security and nutrition. Thousands of interconnected species make up a vital web of biodiversity within the ecosystems upon which global food production depends. With the erosion of biodiversity, humankind loses the potential to adapt ecosystems to new challenges such as population growth and climate change. Achieving food security for

Biodiversity under Domestication all is intrinsically linked to the maintenance of biodiversity. Agrobiodiversity is the result of the

In nature, all organisms have been living in har- interaction between the environment, genetic mony for millions of years.  Humans (nomadic resources and management systems and pracand forest tribes) have been highly dependent on tices used by culturally diverse people, and the endless diversity among and within species therefore land and water resources are used for along with their habitats and ecosystems. When production in different ways. Thus, agrobiodihumans transited from being nomadic hunter-­ versity encompasses the variety and variability gatherers to having a more settled lifestyle, due of animals, plants and micro-organisms that to the adoption of agriculture  some  12,000 are necessary for sustaining key functions of years ago, they started searching for such biore- the agro-ecosystem, including its structure and sources that could provide them with food, feed, processes for, and in support of, food production fodder, fibre and improved livelihood. The inter- and food security (FAO, 1997). Local knowledge vention of humans by way of domestication and and culture can, therefore, be considered as farming affected the pattern of evolution, divert- ­integral parts of agrobiodiversity, because it is ing selection from ‘fitness’ to ‘human prefer- the human activity of agriculture that shapes ence’. The available  diversity of domesticated and conserves this biodiversity. Many people’s species, which is the basis for the quality, range food and livelihood security depends on the and extent of choices available to humankind, is sustained management of various biological the result of such evolution, influenced by fre- ­resources that are important for food and agriquent human interventions,  especially farm culture. Agricultural biodiversity, also known as agrobiodiversity, or the genetic resources for women, over millennia.


18 The Growth of the Indian Seed Sector: Challenges and Opportunities



The Growth of the Indian Seed Sector:

Challenges and Opportunities

Seed is the basic and most critical input for sustainable agriculture.  The response of all other inputs depends on quality of seeds to a large extent.  For agriculture to prosper, farmers must have a reliable supply of high-quality seeds and seedlings of superior varieties, at an affordable price. Fortunately, recent advances in the technology of seed and seedling production are helping to improve both the quality and range of planting materials. It is estimated that the direct contribution of quality seed alone to the total production is about 15–20% depending upon the crop, and it can be further raised to 45% with efficient management of other inputs (Poonia, 2013). Seeds of varieties with appropriate characteristics are required to meet the demand of diverse agroclimatic conditions and intensive cropping systems. Sustained increase in agriculture production and productivity is dependent, to a large extent, on development of new and improved varieties of crops and an efficient system for timely supply of quality seeds and planting materials to farmers. The seed sector has made impressive progress over the past five decades


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