Opinion / Web Comments

An incredible journey through India (II)

By Marcos Fava Neves (chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2013-04-13 15:45

In this second article about India, I give some information about agriculture, collected in two weeks of visits and interviews and raise some of the topics that make part of the strategic agribusiness agenda. As a first impression, Indians have a passion to owe land and this land is what will be passed to their children. Indians love children too!

India has a large proportion of arable land, 180 million hectares, almost 60% of the land existing (330 million hectares of surface) and produces the second largest crop in the world. It is a very challenging land structure, since almost 75% of the land is in properties of less than 5 ha, and as average, one to two hectares per farming family. Imagine land ownership in the future, dividing this area with some children.

Agriculture is strongly dependent on the Monsoon and the amount of rain that it will bring. The Monsoon is the direct responsible for the amount of income available in a particular year.

We can find a great diversity of climates, allowing several products to be produced. India, after China, is the second largest producer of rice and wheat, fruits and vegetables. Rice is a major crop, occupying 44 million hectares and producing more than 90 million tons. Wheat also is an important product, with more than 80 million tons per year. Corn occupies 8 million hectares. India is among the world’s five largest producers of 80% of the crops (agriculture produce items).

Agriculture has seen a huge development due to adoption of technology. Grain production jumped from 50 million tons in 1950 to more than 250 million tons in 2012. Irrigated area in India went from around 20 million ha in 1950 to 65 million in 2010. By 2012, around 17% of India’s agricultural output is exported and it still is the primary occupation of 52% of local population. But due to this population growth, per capita availability of grains fell 10 kg in ten years.

Several other changes can be seen. Farmland management is also concentrating, with the growth of land lease and more efforts to build scale, probably the biggest challenge in India’s agriculture.

Due to the industrial and services business growth, as in most countries facing urban development, it is natural that agricultural share in GDP declined, from 56% in 1950 to 14% in 2012. There is a movement of a more feminization of agriculture and Brazil is also an example of this issue.

Several challenges face the fast development of agriculture in India. In the innovation process, according to companies interviewed, the regulatory systems are an issue, taking long time to register products The challenge of urban areas advancing over farming areas and labor costs increased 50% in the last two years since the service sector is attracting people previously available for agriculture. Although India has a lot of water, it is also becoming an issue, due to pollution, usage by its growing population and other challenges.

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