Memoranda for Submission to the Chief Ministers of the Two Telugu States.


Indian agriculture in the Past and the Prospect

Dt:  20/9/17

Indian agriculture  in the Past and  the Prospect


Dr T.H.Chowdary*


India’s land area and   therefore  the cultivable land does not increase, certainly not like our population. Our population has increased from about 380 mln in 1951 to about  1300 mln by now, an increase of  3.62 times.  The land sown for food grains  in acres per person has been progressively coming down  -   1911 =0.88; 1942=0.72;  1948=0.71 1951 =0.68 2016= 0.27!


2. The rural  population   was 297 mln constituting  83% of India’s population in 1951.  The rural population is mainly dependent upon agriculture . It is now 880 mln (68%) ( 1 2.93 times growth). The population grew by 3.62 times between 1951-2016 ;  the agriculture  dependent  population grew by 2.93 times during the same period.   In 1951 the Per Capita  GDP of the Urban  population  was 3.85 times that of the  rural population. In 2016 it is  about 9 times. The   disparity has  tremendously increased. The urban population has remunerative work round the year.   The agriculture dependent  people have work only seasonally.  That accounts for  much of the disparity in incomes.  The contribution of the primary sector  which is mainly agriculture which was 55.4% in 1951 is now between 18%  and  20%  only .


3. The distribution of  land holdings  is  :


Land Holding

% of


% of Land


Land less



Sub-margin holdings (0.01-0.99 acres)



Marginal holdings [1.00-2.49 acres]



Small holdings [2.50-4.99 acres]



Medium holdings [5-14.99 acres]



Large holdings [15 acre +above]






Source: Swaminathan Report - PRS Legislative Research  (Oct 2006)

India has the  worlds’ 2nd largest  arable land; 35% irrigated; 65% rain-fed

( Source: Feroze Varun  Gandhi MP;  The Hindu 14.09.17)


4. Significant Facts:


·         65% of the sown  is rain -dependent and contributes 45%  of the  food  grains .

·         The crop yields in India  compare poorly  with  other  populous countries . Compared to China the yields are  46% and   65% for paddy and wheat respectively. We compare poorly also with Japan and  even  Indonesia and Vietnam.

·         The availability of  food grains per person per year in India  is 185.4 Kgs ;  China is 371 Kgs and  USA 1,557 Kgs.  In the  USA  87% of the food grains, are  coarse grains fed mainly to cows and  poultry for their  meat . 

·         The cost of cultivation has been going up especially because of the NREGA. The daily wages for agricultural operations during the  season are peaking to Rs. 600 for 4 to 5 Hrs   work.

·         For farmers, the debt to income ratio is lowest at 26% for land holdings of  10 hectares or more and is  highest at 142% for land  holdings of less than 1 hectare;  it is   94% for land  holdings between 1 & 2 hectares and 34%  for  land holdings between  2  and 10 hectors.

·         3,21,428 farmers committed suicide in the last 20 years.

·         Loan waivers began  in 1990 under the  government of the V P Singh led United  Front.  They have now become addictive and entitlements.  Over Rs. 70,000 cr  farmers’ debt was waived in 2009.  If the  9 states which now clamouring  for loan waiver the required amount will be Rs.  3,10,000 cr for waiving of the loans.  This is  5 times the allocation for roads; 4 times  allocated for fertiliser; 2 times more than for food subsidy . Government will have to borrow  Rs. 850 cr per day for this alone. 


5. Painless Poverty:


·         Populist governments  have designed welfare schemes to  ensure  painless  poverty.

·         As long ago as in 1951 Dr Ambedkar’s All India Schedule Caste Federation preparing for the    general  elections had included agriculture in its manifesto  -   small holdings  must be replaced by large farms, government should to acquire  all land and give it on lease to farmers / their  co-operatives in  lot s that  can  sustain mechanisation. The title holders should be  compensated  by interest bearing  bonds farm machinery may be  leased by government company and lease  money collected as land  revenue. Cultivable waste lands should be distributed to the  landless. Reduce population  by  compulsorily enforced drastic methods.


6. The National Commission on Agriculture   popularly known as Swaminathan Committee recommended :


·         inclusion of agriculture in concurrent list , minimum support price cost plus 50%; (costs periodically computed by the  Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices);   water harvesting through millions  of wells  for recharge;  reduce interest on loans to 4%  ; moratorium  on repayment and not  waiver ; crop insurance   over the entire  country with village  as the unit ; price  stabilisation fund and proper accounting and use  of  Kisan  Kalyan  Cess; reduction of  risks ; if government can periodically raise the salaries of its officials and compensate them for inflation by periodic rises in   DA, why can not it pay  higher MSP  for farmers periodically . It will be just about Rs.20,000 cr per annum and  not  the billions  of  rupees as loan waivers.


7.  There are  75 Agricultural Universities  / institutes in India. Not even 10% of the  graduates engage in Agriculture.  No farmer’s son / daughter  wants to follow father’s profession.  Young farmers  hardly get spouses.  (May be, populist  parties will include in their  all-free, welfare programs: “ Our government will ensure  wife/ husband for every young  person”.


8.  Prime Minister promises doubling of  farmer’s income by 2022  by:


Direct Benefit Transfer


Remunerative MSP


Restructuring Farming as an Industry