Here we detail about the three factors that cause of low agricultural productivity in India.
In India agricultural sector is very much overcrowded. Too many people of India depend on agriculture. Since 1901, about 70 per cent of Indian population has been depending on agriculture. In 1981, total number of agricultural population in India is 48 crore. But to this unrelenting pressure of population and lack of alternative employment opportunities outside agriculture, the size of holding is becoming smaller and smaller with the gradual sub-division and fragmentation of land.
This has resulted in the fall in per capita land area, disguised unemployment and fall in the marginal productivity of labour to even zero or negative level. Due to this over- crowdedness, the area of cultivated land per cultivator has declined substantially from 0.43 hectare in 1901 to 0.20 hectare in 1991.
Various socio-economic factors like farmer’s conservative outlook, ignorance, illiteracy, superstitions etc. stand in the way of adoption of modern technology in Indian agriculture. Unless this discouraging rural atmosphere is changed, it is not at all possible to modernize and improve the condition of agriculture in this country.
Nature still dominates agriculture in this country. It is said to be a gamble of monsoons. The rains are totally uncertain in India. Sometimes rains are insufficient or sometimes to a much of rain resulting in heavy floods both of which cause widespread damage and destruction. Other natural calamities such as hailstorm, frost or attack by pest and insects are also of common occurrence in India. All these natural factors always go against the Indian farmers in stepping up their agricultural productivity.
Indian agriculture still remains backward due to its inadequate financial provision. Until recently, farmers have to depend much on the village money lenders, who charges exorbitant rate of interest and resorts to unfair practices like manipulation of accounts etc. for which the cultivator had to lose his land and become a landless agricultural labourer. Other sources of finance, viz., co-operative, banks, financial institutions and Government although exist but their contributions are almost insignificant in quantity.
There is near absence of productive investment in Indian agriculture as the investment in land is found less attractive than the alternative investment in jewellery, trade and money lending.
The marketing system of agricultural products in India is totally defective and inadequate. In the absence of proper marketing and storage facilities, farmers are deprived of due prices of their agricultural products and have to go for even distress sale after harvests at a very low price. Thus the middlemen take away a major chunk of the profit as the farmers are not even guaranteed fair and remunerative prices of their products.
The following are some of the institutional factors which are equally responsible for the backwardness of Indian agriculture:
The average size of agricultural holdings in India is very small and uneconomic and it is even less than 2 hectares or 5 acres. Besides, the agricultural holdings in India are fragmented too. With such uneconomic and fragmented holding, no scientific cultivation with improved implements, seeds etc. is ever possible, Small size of holdings leads to waste of time, labour, capital and cattle power, improper utilization of irrigation facilities, quarrels, litigation etc. All these have resulted low yield in Indian agriculture.
Land tenure system in India is totally defective and it is standing in the way of its agricultural development. Even after the abolition of zamindari system and enactment of tenancy legislations, the position of tenants is still far from satisfactory. The cultivator has to pay high rent to the landlords and is subject to frequent ejectment by the landlord.
All these have led to lack of incentive and confidence on the part of cultivators to make provision for any permanent development on their land. Further, there are delay in implementation of land reforms and uncertainty about the rights of the farmers of land.
The following technological factors are also responsible for low agricultural productivity in Indian agriculture:
The farmers in India have been adopting orthodox and inefficient method and technique of cultivation. As they are tradition bound and poor thus they could not adopt modern efficient methods adopted by western countries of the world. These farmers were relying on centuries old wooden plough and other implements.
It is only in recent years that the Indian farmers have started to adopt improved implements like steel ploughs, seed drills, harrows, hoes etc. to a limited extent only. Thus the adoption of traditional methods is responsible for low agricultural productivity in India.
Indian farmers are still applying seeds of indifferent quality. They have no sufficient financial ability to purchase good quality high yielding seeds. The supply of high yielding seeds is also minimum in the country. Thus the farmers are mostly applying traditional variety of seeds whose average yield is just half of the yield of improved high yielding variety.
Indian farmers are not applying sufficient quantity of fertilizers on their lands. Constant cultivation of land causes deterioration of the fertility of soil. For the revitalization of soil fertility and to use fallow land for cultivation, application of various types of fertilizer is urgently required. But the poor cultivators cannot afford to purchase costly chemical fertilizers for its application on their lands. Thus in India, the use of both chemical fertilizer and even farmyard dung manure is totally inadequate.
Indian agriculture is still suffering from lack of assured and controlled water supply through artificial irrigation facilities. Thus the Indian farmers have to depend much upon rainfall which is neither regular nor even. Whatever irrigation potential that has been developed in our country, a very limited number of farmers can avail these facilities.
As for example before independence, only 19 per cent of the total land was irrigated in India. But in-spite of vigorous programme of major and minor irrigation projects undertaken since 1951 the proportion of irrigated land to total net sown area now comes to be about 66 per cent in 1995-96. Thus in the absence of assured and controlled water supply, the agricultural productivity in India is bound to be low.
Agricultural research in India is still very poor in comparison to its requirements. Whatever research is being conducted, its result is not even made available to the farmers fully for its application. Thus many chronic problems of agricultural operation faced by the farmer still remain largely unattended. Thus we have seen that there is gross absence of many basic facilities in Indian agriculture and all these have resulted in low agricultural productivity and also backwardness of the agricultural sectors of the country.