By 2030, the western Indian states, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh, will have 65 % urban population and the economy will be highly industrialized. There will not just be demand for more food but accessible, affordable, safe and nutritious food. Agriculture, considered to be the backbone of the Indian economy, would be more important in days to come as it would not only provide food but also the raw material for industries, fuel through biomass and also be able to use the wastewater.
At present, India holds the second position in the world in agricultural production. It also contributes a major share in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country. In addition, the sector recruits about 50 % of the entire manpower.
Regardless of the fact that there has been a gradual slump in its contribution to the GDP of the country, Agriculture is currently the biggest industry in India. On the whole, it plays a key role in the socio-economic growth of the country. In terms of agricultural contribution, some of the most developed states are Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, and Gujarat. The total arable territory in India is 15,73,50,000 km2, which represents about 52,92 % of the overall land zone of the country. Arable Land is diminishing because of continuous strain from an ever-increasing number of inhabitants and growing urbanization.
In India, usually the farmers, along with their family members, grow crops in their small plot of land. The crop yield in this practice is mainly consumed by the farmer and his family with very little surplus left for sale in the market. This type of Agriculture has been the most common practice in the country for over 700 years and still prevails in many parts of India. But the Agriculture in India faces pressure as the population in India is increasing at a high rate. The sector has to provide food and employments to large sections of society. This means that there is a requirement of additional land for Agriculture but on the contrary, the rapid growth in urbanization has converted the agricultural land into non-agricultural use. Further, it mainly depends upon monsoon, which is unreliable, uncertain and irregular. Even though, since Independence, there has been a rapid expansion in the irrigation facilities, still, about two-thirds of the cropped area is dependent upon monsoons.
In the backdrop of these challenges, experts are urging farmers to adopt newer technologies and think out-of-the-box. So far a few farmers are doing just that and their efforts seem to be bearing fruits. For example, strawberries, known as the mainstay of western Maharashtra, are being grown in Kashmir on what was once an apple orchard and a paddy field. A village in arid Rajasthan is now home to towering teak trees. A farm in Madhya Pradesh is teaching world experts the ropes of natural farming, a farming method, which, unlike organic farming, uses only natural ingredients, not even organic fertilizers and pesticides. In Tamil Nadu, a management consultant-turned-farmer is using hydroponic farming to produce exotic kale and spinach for consumption at fine-dining restaurants in the metros.
Individually initiated farm-level innovations can be seen as part of a broader response to the challenges faced by farmers. They also mark the change towards new technologies, which opens great opportunities for investors, also from foreign countries as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is allowed up to. From April 2000 – April 2014 the Foreign Direct Investments in the Indian Agriculture Services and Machinery Sector stood at $ 2026.04 million respectively.
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