DURING THE LAST SIXTY YEARS
AGRICULTURAL EVOLUTION DURING THE LAST SIXTY YEARS
Starting with the First Five Year Plan, agriculture and allied sectors have received considerable attention in both strategy development and resource allocation. The Sixth Five Year Plan (1980-85) was particu- larly significant since for the first time agricultural growth rate (5.7%) exceeded the rate of growth of the economy (5.5%) as a whole. There is a saying in farming, “we reap as we sow” and this is very true of planned development. The Indian independence in 1947 was born in the backdrop of the great Bengal famine of 1942-43. This is why Jawaharlal Nehru said soon after our independence, “everything else can wait but not agriculture”. This principle is reacted in different year plans. As a result, we have not had any major famine since 1947, although our population has been increasing at a fast rate. It is only during the last twenty years that both public and private investment in agriculture has shown a decline as a result of which agricultural growth has also declined. More recently, steps have been taken in XI Plan to reverse the trend. The Sixth Five Year Plan also introduced for the first time separate chapters on “Women and Development” and “Environment and Development”. Thus emphasis was accorded to the conserva- tion and enhancement of the ecological foundations essential for sustainable agriculture such as, soil, water, biodiversity and climate. The importance of women’s technological and skill empowerment was also emphasized, taking into account the increasing feminization of agriculture. Also a sub-chapter was introduced on a New Deal for the Self-employed. The largest self employment sector in our country is agriculture including crop and animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry, and agro-processing. The next in importance is the trading sector with numerous micro-enterprises and retail shops supported by micro- credit.
Today, our agriculture is in the midst of an ecological and economic crisis. The heartland of the green revolution namely, Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh is facing both ecological and hydrologi- cal distress. The National Commission on Farmers in their report submitted to the Government in 2006 had recommended a shift to conservation farming in this area. A National Policy for Farmers had also been developed and placed in Parliament in November 2007. This is the first time that a National Policy for Farmers has been developed, since all earlier policies related to agriculture and not specially to the women and men who work night and day in sun and rain to produce food for us. The National Policy for Farmers calls for a paradigm shift from measuring agricultural progress purely in terms of growth rate in production, to measuring progress by the actual increase in the net income of farmers. Thus, there has to be an income orientation which implies remunerative price and assured marketing opportunities, if farm- ing and farmers are to survive in our country. Compounding the existing problems there is also the threat of climate change which will further reduce the productivity of small holdings. We thus need a New Deal for the farmers of India.
The summary of the different phases of our agricultural evolution during the last sixty years, which has marked a transition from the green revolution to an ever-green revolution can be seen below:
In India, the 20th century was a period of agony and ecstasy on the farm front. The colonial period (1900-47) was characterized by insignificant growth in food production and frequent famines. The Nehru period (1947-1964) was marked by emphasis on irrigation, power generation, production of mineral fertilizers, chemical pesticides, community development, national extension service, and above all strength- ening of agricultural research and education through the establishment of agricultural universities. A post-graduate school was set up at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, which was conferred in 1958 the status of a deemed university under the UGC Act of 1956. The first Agricultural University based on the Land Grant University system of the United States of America started function- ing in 1960 at Pant Nagar in Uttar Pradesh (now in Uttarakand).
Inspite of all the measures taken to strengthen agricultural research, education, extension and develop- ment, the gap between food production and food requirement continued to grow between 1950 and 1960. Consequently, food imports, largely under the PL-480 programme of the United States, grew year after year, reaching a peak level of 10 million tonnes in 1966. Globally and nationally, there was skepti- cism about India’s capacity to feed its growing population.
To meet this challenge, an Intensive Agriculture District Programme (IADP) was started in the early sixties to maximize the output of cereals like rice and wheat in districts where irrigation water was available. The strategy was to provide seeds, fertilizer and other inputs to improve productivity. During the first 15 years after independence, production increase was largely associated with area expansion and not due to higher yield. Consequently, the average yield of rice and wheat continued to stagnate at less than 1 tonne per hectare. It is under such circumstances, that has been pointed out that the IADP, also referred to as the package programme, had one important missing ingredient, namely a genetic strain which can respond to the rest of the package, particularly soil nutrients and irrigation water. The search for high yielding varieties which can convert sunlight, water and nutrients into grains in an efficient manner first began in rice with the initiation of the indica- japonica hybridization programme at the Central Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, in the early nineteen fifties. Similar work was started in wheat in the mid- fifties, using mutation breeding techniques as well as hybridization between Triticum aestivum varieties and sub-species compactun and sphaerococum. The indica-japonica hybridization programme resulted in varieties like ADT-27 in Tamil Nadu and Mashuri in Malaysia. The programme did not make much headway due to sterility problems. In the case of wheat also, the expected improve- ment in yield potential did not take place, since a short plant stature was also associated with short panicles and reduced yield potential. Fortunately, Japanese scientists led by Dr Gonziro Inazouka iden- tified the Norin 10 and other genes which helped to break the negative correlation between plant height and panicle length. The Norin dwarng gene was used by Dr Orville Vogel in Washington State Univer- sity, Pulman, to breed high yielding winter wheats like Gaines. The same genes were used by Dr Norman Borlaug in Mexico to develop semi-dwarf spring wheats. By adopting a shuttle breeding technique, Dr Borlaug also made the wheat plant insensitive to photo- period and temperature. This gave birth to high- yielding spring wheat varieties Lerma Rojo-64A, Sonora 63, Sonora 64, Mayo 64 and other strains in Mexico. We obtained seeds of these varieties, as well as a wide range of segregating material from Dr Borlaug in September 1963. The details of the semi-dwarf wheat programme initiated with the Norin dwarng genes are contained in the publication “Wheat Revolution - a Dialogue” (Macmillan India 1993). Production advances were rapid resulting in the green revolution in 1968, due to the growth of a Green Revolution Symphony, consisting of mutually reinforcing packages of technology, services, pub- lic policy in input and out pricing and marketing, and above all farmers’ enthusiasm.
In the area of technology, some of the significant steps taken included a) the organization of multi- location trials with 4 Mexican Semi-dwarf varieties during 1963-64; b) the organization of National Demonstrations in the fields of resource poor farmers with small holdings from 1964- 65 onwards; c) the import of 200 tonnes of seeds of Lerma Rojo-64A and Sonora 64 during 1965-66 to expand the National Demonstration Programme throughout the wheat growing areas; d) import of 18000 tonnes of seeds from Mexico, mainly of the variety Lerma Rojo-64A for increasing the area under semi- dwarf wheat varieties; e) selection of amber grain wheat varieties from the segregating populations sent by Dr Borlaug and development of high-yielding amber wheats like Kalyan Sona and Sonalika, and initiation of a dy- namic programme of cross-breeding both in aestivum and durum wheats in order to incorporate the Norin dwarfing genes into high quality Indian Wheat varieties like C306, bred by Chaudhury Ram Dhan Singh in the Punjab.
In the area of services, the important measures taken included a) the setting up of a National Seed Corporation; b) rural electrification, c) rural communication, and d) enlarged credit supply. The public policy measures led to establishment of an Agricultural Prices Commission, enforcement of a minimum support price through the Food Corporation of India, and the building up of grain reserves to feed the public distribution system. Since the new technologies are scale neutral but not resource neutral, special programmes like the small and marginal farmer support programmes were initiated. The aim was to ensure social inclusion in access to high-yield technologies.
The integrated packages of technology, services and public policies ignited farmers’ enthusiasm and a small government programme became a mass movement. Writing in the Illustrated Weekly of India (May 11, 1969), the following remarks had been made on the Punjab Wheat Miracle.
“Brimming with enthusiasm, hard-working, skilled and determined, the Punjab farmer has been the backbone of the revolution. Revolutions are usually associated with the young, but in this revolution, age has been no obstacle to participation. Farmers, young and old, educated and uneducated, have easily taken to the new agronomy. It has been heart-warming to see young college graduates, retired officials, ex-army men, illiterate peasants and small farmers queuing up to get the new seeds. At least in the Punjab, the divorce between intellect and labour, which has been the bane of our agriculture is vanish- ing”
To bring this significant development in India’s agricultural evolution to public attention, the then Prime Minister Smt Indira Gandhi released a special stamp titled “The Wheat Revolution” in July 1968. Similar opportunities for enhancing production through productivity improvement soon became avail- able in rice, maize, sorghum and pearl millet. Hence, the US scientist, Dr William Gaud coined the term “Green Revolution” to indicate productivity triggered production increase. In order to ensure that a productivity based agriculture does not result in ecological harm due to the unsustainable exploitation of land and water, adoption of mono- culture and excessive use of mineral fertilizers and chemical pesti- cides. It was appealed to farmers in the following words, not to harm the long term production potential for short term gains in an address to the Indian Science Congress held on Varanasi in January 1968.
“Exploitative agriculture offers great dangers if carried out with only an immediate production motive. The emerging exploitative farming community in India should become aware of this. Intensive cultiva- tion of land without conservation of soil fertility and soil structure would lead, ultimately, to the spring- ing up of deserts. Irrigation without arrangements for drainage would result in soils getting alkaline or saline. Indiscriminate use of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides could cause adverse changes in bio- logical balance as well as lead to an increase in the incidence of cancer and other diseases, through the toxic residues present in the grains or other edible parts. Unscientific tapping of underground water will lead to the rapid exhaustion of this wonderful capital resource left to us through ages of natural farming. The rapid replacement of numerous locally adapted varieties with one or two high-yielding strains in large contiguous areas would result in the spread of serious diseases capable of wiping out entire crops, as happened prior to the Irish potato famine of 1854 and the Bengal rice famine in 1942. Therefore the initiation of exploitative agriculture without a proper understanding of the various consequences of every one of the changes introduced into traditional agriculture, and without building up a proper scien- tific and training base to sustain it, may only lead us, in the long run, into an era of agricultural disaster rather than one of agricultural prosperity.”
Hence it is pleaded for converting the green revolution into an ever-green revolution by mainstreaming the principles of ecology in technology development and dissemination. We needed ever-green revolu- tion as increasing productivity in perpetuity without associated ecological harm. We plead for avoiding the temptation to convert the green revolution into a greed revolution. Unfortunately, ecologically un- sound public policies, like the supply of free electricity, have led to the over-exploitation of the aquifer in the Punjab, Haryana and Western UP region. The heartland of the green revolution is in deep ecological distress. The need for adopting the methods of an ever- green revolution has therefore become very urgent.
The following three steps are urgently needed for ensuring adequate availability of home grown food. First, we must take steps to defend the gains already made. This will involve integrating ecological principles in technology development. At the same time, public policies should promote the sustainable use of land, water, biodiversity and common property resources through conservation farming. If the regions, which now provide most of the grains for the public distribution system, do not shift to an ever- green revolution pathway of productivity improvement, the nation’s food security system will be in jeopardy. Second, we must extend productivity gains to the “green but no green revolution” areas like the entire eastern India, where there is adequate water availability. These areas constitute the “sleeping giant” of Indian agriculture and should be enabled to take to green agriculture in a big way through appropriate packages of technology, services and public policies.
Third, we should make new gains, particularly in rainfed areas, which constitute 60% of the farm area in the country. Available data show that the yield gap (i.e. gap between potential and actual yields) in such rainfed semi-arid areas is as high as 200 to 300% in the case of pulses, oilseeds, millets, semi-arid horticulture, etc. Work on “more crop and income per drop of water” and on planting a billion fertilizer trees like Faidherbia albida should be promoted. Water harvesting and efficient water use should become a way of life in such areas. A Pond in Every Farm should become a habit and where appropriate, labour from the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) programme should be utilized for constructing farm ponds in the fields of small and marginal farmers in drought prone areas.
India has nearly a billion farm animals including poultry. Livestock and livelihoods are intimately inter- related in all major agro-ecosystems, but more particularly in arid and semi-arid areas. Also, the owner- ship of livestock is more egalitarian than that of land. Therefore, crop- livestock integrated farming systems should be promoted, since this confers multiple benefits, like income and nutrition security. To sum up, Indian agriculture is at the crossroads. Our population may reach 1750 million by 2050. Per capita crop land will then be 0.089 ha and per capita fresh water supply will be 1190 m3 / year. Food grain production must be doubled and the area under irrigation should go up from the current 60 million ha to 114 million ha by 2050. Degraded soils should be restored through increase in Carbon pools in soils. We should again recall Nehru’s famous words, “Everything else can wait but not agriculture”.
Indian Agriculture – A Review of Policy and Performance
IN THIS essay we analyze Indian agricultural policy and its effect on agricultural growth over time. First the analytical framework is presented followed by a detailed account of policy evolution and growth performance.
The evolution of Indian agricultural policy may be analyzed in the context of the role of agriculture in the development process and the factors affecting agricultural growth. In the development process of a country, agriculture serves mainly three functions i) to provide initial surpluses for other sectors of the economy ii) to provide wage goods to the industrial sector iii) to promote growth through forward linkages (provide inputs to industrial sector) and backward linkages (use outputs from industrial sector in agriculture). The first and the third functions require a robust overall agricultural growth whereas the second requires adequate food supplies. Therefore, for sustained economic growth, both overall agricul- tural growth and growth in food production are indispensable.
Factors that affect agricultural growth can be broadly categorized into the following – natural (climatic), technological, economic, institutional and policy factors. Agricultural development depends on an inter- play of all these factors. Natural factors include soils, rainfall and temperature among others. Techno- logical factors include seeds, machinery, pest- protection and fertilizing technology available in the country. The third set of factors is economic in nature. Profitability of agriculture vis-a- vis other sectors influ- ences private investment in agriculture and similarly relative profitability of different crops determines the inter-crop allocation of land and other resources. The fourth set of factors is institutions – which is a much less-understood concept. Institutions include both formal (created by the law or de jure) and informal (de facto) rules of the game that determine interaction among the economic agents. The Food Corporation of India (FCI), which carries procurement operations and the village level moneylender who provides basic credit to the farmers can be thought of as two examples of formal and informal institutions respectively. Institutions are the main determinants of transaction costs.
The last set of factors relate to policy, which can influence almost all the above mentioned factors. For instance, large investment by the state in rural public goods such as rural roads, rural electrification and markets will change economic incentives in favour of agriculture by making agriculture remunerative. Liberal policy on tenancy laws will make land leasing easier and allow unviable farms to be leased out. This may increase flow of technology into agriculture. Increase in agricultural R&D investment and other public spending will have similar positive effects in promoting agricultural growth. Therefore, policy can influence all other factors, except natural factors.
Indian Agriculture in the Last Six Decades
The evolution of agricultural policy in India can be broadly categorized into five phases. The first phase is from 1951 to 1965 when promoting industrial growth through import substitution and protection through over-valued exchange rates was the broad strategy. Food requirements during this phase were largely met through PL-480 imports from the USA. Some investments were made in agricultural infra- structure, irrigation and electricity. The major source of agricultural growth during this period was area increase without notable productivity gains
The main emphasis was on industry with limited focus on agriculture. The second phase (1966-1980) was the phase when green revolution technology or HYV technology was introduced and adopted in a major way in the country. India attained food self-sufficiency during this phase through a combination of technology, appropriate policy framework and suitable institutions. The third phase covers the period from 1981 to 1991 when the green revolution technology spread throughout the country resulting in more equitable inter-regional growth. Growth in public investment in agriculture started slowing down in this phase. The fourth phase starts with 1992 with the launch of the macro-economic reforms and spans until 2004. This was the phase when anti-agricultural bias was reduced through correction of the over-valued exchange rate regime. There was also an attempt to reduce state’s role in agriculture. The decline in public investment in the earlier phase began to affect agricultural growth adversely in this phase. The final phase is from 2005 when state’s role in agriculture increased and many programs were launched.
In the first phase (1951-1965), the planning was mainly marked by industrial growth-led development strategy. In the first three five year plans, industry was the main plank of planning and agriculture re- ceived little attention. Promoting industrial growth through import substitution and protection through over-valued exchange rates was the broad strategy. Food requirements during this phase were largely met through PL-480 imports from the USA. Some investments were made in agricultural infrastructure, irrigation and electricity. The major source of agricultural growth during this period was area increase without notable productivity gains.
During the second phase (1966- 1980), with major food shortages in the 1960’s and the subsequent disruption in food aid supplies under the PL-480 programme of the United States, food self-sufficiency evolved as a major goal of policy planning. Since the major objective was to increase food production in a short span of time, efforts were mainly focussed on the high potential regions in the irrigated pockets of the country. Inputs such as irrigation, fertilizer, power and credit were subsidized. Provision of output support in the form of minimum support price (MSP) was started. Also, procurement by the public agencies was begun to ensure assured market to the farmers and supply of grain through PDS to poor consumers. Food trade was severely restricted to provide incentives to domestic production. Many important institutions such as Agricultural Prices Commission (APC) which is now known as CACP, Food Corporation of India (FCI) and National Dairy Development Board were also established during this time. Large investments were also made in agricultural R&D. These policies were immensely suc- cessful and by the mid- seventies India had since the major objective to increase food production in a short span of time, efforts were mainly focused on the high potential regions in the irrigated pockets of the country. Inputs such as irrigation, fertilizer, power and credit were subsidized. Provision of output support in the form of minimum support price (MSP) was started. Also, procurement by the public agencies was begun to ensure assured market to the farmers and supply of grain through PDS to poor consumers become virtually self-sufficient in the production of food grains and impressive gains had been made in the production of milk and sugar. The major source of growth during this period was increase in productivity.
This supply-demand-institutional framework, built during mid 60s, continued till early 1990s with minor changes. Results of this policy regime are mixed. The supply side policies have resulted in decent agri- cultural growth and helped India achieve food self-sufficiency. But, the focus on well-endowed regions resulted in inter-regional disparities in growth. Policies on the consumption front – buffer stocks and PDS – ensured a steady supply of food at affordable prices to large sections of population. The biggest achievement of these policies can be said to be the complete elimination of large-scale famines due to natural (droughts) or man-made (failure of distribution network) causes.
The third phase (1981-1991) saw the spread of HYV technology to regions other than north-west India. This period is the best phase of Indian agriculture as growth was achieved with inter-regional equity. With self-sufficiency in food grains, focus shifted in this phase to oilseeds and pulses in which growth had lagged behind. Technology Mission in Oilseeds and Pulses (TMOP) was started in 1986. These policy initiatives resulted in very impressive increase in production of oilseeds. However, the costs of this increase were quite substantial in terms of resource use inefficiency as indicated by resource cost ratios much in excess for major oilseeds. Production of food grains continued to rise and control of food trade and operation of the public distribution system continued during this period.
The fourth phase (1992-2004) is marked by the launching of macro economic reforms in 1991 and import liberalization in edible oils sector in 1994. This phase can be further subdivided into two sub- phases 1992 to 1997 and 1997 to 2004. In the first sub-phase, the macro economic reforms resulted in reduction of the anti-agricultural bias. The second sub-phase witnessed a sharp decline in agricultural growth, as a result of the reduction in capital investment and decline in farm profitability. The anti- agricultural bias decreased considerably since the early 1990s. This is mainly because of a steady decline in the manufacturing protection and correction of the exchange rate regime as a result of macroeco- nomic reforms. The peak tariffs on industrial products came down from 300 per cent in 1991-92 to 30 per cent in 2002. Similarly, import controls were withdrawn in 1991-92 virtually on all goods. One of the effects of these structural adjustment measures was improvement in the terms of trade (ToT) for agricul- ture. The index of terms of trade (1990-91=100) remained above 100 during the entire period since 1990. As a result of this improvement in the ToT private sector gross capital formation in agriculture (GCFA) increased from 11424 crores in 1990-91 (1993-94 prices) to 14931 crores in 2000- 01. The rate of growth in 90s (2.5 per cent) was also higher than in the 80s (2.0 per cent). While the improvement in ToT, had a slight positive effect on private investment in agriculture, rising fiscal deficits, on the other hand, contributed to a decline in public investment. The public investment of 7130 crores in 1981-82 fell to 4992 crores in 1990- 91 and further to rupees 4520 crores in 2000-01. As a result, development of infrastructure like irrigation, rural electrification, rural roads and markets suffered. This decline showed very adverse effect on the performance of agriculture in the country in the 1990s. The average growthrate of agricultural GDP fell to 3.1 per cent in the 1990’s (1991-92 to 2001-02) as compared to 3.5 per cent during the 1980s. The growth rate of production of principal crops has come down from 3.19 per cent per annum during 80s to 2.28 per cent in 90s.
This continued neglect of public investment in agriculture started manifesting in the form of a severe crisis by the late-1990s. The average growth rate of agriculture during the pre-green revolution period (phase 1) was 2.1 per cent, which accelerated to 3 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively in the next two phases. However, the growth rate fell drastically to 2.2 per cent during 1997-2004, which was almost equal to the pre-green revolution phase. Ironically this was the period when non-agricultural GDP was growing at 7 per cent per annum, leading to large inter-sectoral disparities. This slowdown in agriculture was mainly because of sharp deceleration/decline in public investment and input usage in agriculture, which is linked to decline in profitability of most crops. The complementarity between public investment and private investment as well as input usage, led to this severe crisis in agriculture.
What can be said about the success of India’s agricultural policies upto this point? India’s performance overall was undoubtedly impressive. Food grain production increased manifold and the country turned from being a net importer in 1951 to a net exporter in 2013. Irrigation increased from 11 per cent (of net sown area) to 45 per cent during this period. Fertiliser consumption rose from negligible quantities to 141 kg per /hectare during the same period. Before mid sixties, increase in acreage was principally responsible for the increase in production. After the green revolution, the increase in yield was substan- tial and across the board for all crops. The biggest achievement is the virtual elimination of large-scale famines in the country.
On the negative side, the subsidies on power, fertiliser and food grew rapidly. This current expenditure on subsidies led to decline in public investment in agriculture. As a result the gross capital formation by the public sector in agriculture declined sharply after 1980. Inter-regional and inter-sectoral disparities widened over time. Farming became unviable and a severe crisis ensued from 1997. The major limitation of the growth process is that the country could not achieve universal economic access to food even three decades after the country became self-sufficient in food production.
In the last phase (2005-2013) few efforts have been made to address these issues – arresting the decline in investment in agriculture, making farming viable and improving farmers’ income, increasing food production and providing economic access to food to large sections of population.
Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) was started in 2007 mainly with the objectives of incentivizing states to increase investment in agriculture (because agriculture is a state subject) and use this invest- ment to address felt-needs of the farmers. To meet these two objectives, it has been made mandatory for states to maintain or increase their trend growth in expenditure on agriculture (as a proportion of total expenditure), and also make district agricultural plans (DAP) through a bottom-up planning process for the entire state. States have to meet both these requirements to be able to access RKVY funds. The initial results show improvement in the growth rate of GCFA after the program as compared to the preceding period. The agri-GDP growth rate has also been higher and more stable during this period. However, people’s participation in preparation of district agricultural plans has been minimal.
The second major program is aimed to increase food production by the end of the 11th FYP. The National Food Security Mission (NFSM) was launched in 2007 with the limited objective of increas- ing the production of rice, wheat and pulses by 10, 8 and 2 million tonnes respectively by the end of the 11th FYP. The program, like the green revolution period, focused on select districts across the country for each crop. Results indicate that the program has managed to achieve the targeted production for each of the crops.
The third programme is the National Food Security Act (NFSA), with the main objective of providing economic access to food. Under this program an entitlement of 35 kg of food-grain per month per AAY household and 25 kg per month per priority household (to be decided by the state governments) at a price of 3/2/1 for rice/wheat/millets for three years have been created. In all, about 75 per cent of the rural and 50 per cent of the urban population is covered. Another feature of the program is provision of other benefits such as maternal and child support, support to destitute and homeless. The main concerns about the program relate to sufficiency of domestic production, level of procurement needed, likely impact on market prices, feasibility of imports in case of production shortfalls, level of subsidy outgo and inefficiency of PDS.
Recent studies suggest that the current levels of production and procurement are adequate to meet the requirements of the program. Also, the subsidy outgo is also only marginally higher. These studies also indicate an improvement in the PDS in several states. However, the concerns about market prices appear valid in the light of the persistent cereal price inflation in the recent past. Also, viability of imports is open to question, given the market structure and uncertainty about food availability at affordable prices in the international markets. This issue is very important for large countries like India.
Role of Policy and other Factors in Different Phases
In the first phase (1950-1964), agriculture was mainly driven by the natural factors. In the second phase (1965-1980), breakthrough in technology in the form of high yielding varieties helped the policy efforts by making the economics favourable to food production. The state also created formal institutions such as CACP, FCI and NDDB to implement these policies. Therefore, there was a perfect blend of eco- nomic- technological-institutional-policy factors in this phase, which resulted in the high growth perfor- mance witnessed.
In the third phase, the spread of HYV technology to other parts of the country ensured continuation of growth. However, there was no new technological breakthrough during this phase. As a result, the focus sectors during this phase – pulses and edible oils – witnessed growth mainly through state support without efficiency improvements. When the state support was withdrawn to edible oil sector in the mid 1990s, growth performance slackened. There was another problem during this phase related to the capture of benefits by interest groups. The green revolution regions, which benefited from the initial state support in the 1960s, continued to exert pressure on the central government for continuance of support. This resulted in decline in public investment for agriculture, as resources were diverted to subsidies on food, fertilizer, power and irrigation. This crowding-out of public investment by the current expenditure on subsidies led to gradual decline in growth in the 1990s, eventually turning into a major crisis by 1997.
The subsequent debates and popular discourse on the decline in public investment and failure to attain economic access to food, led to corrective actions on the policy front. Civil society and media played a prominentroleinthis.The launch of RKVY,NFSM and NFSA aresomeoftheresultsofthisdiscourse. The attempt in these programs is to create the necessary institutional and policy framework to make agriculture viable to farmers and also to increase physical and economic access to food.
India managed to attain food self- sufficiency through a combination of technology-policy-institution framework. However, other functions of agriculture, namely providing surpluses and forward and back- ward linkages to non-agricultural sectors have largely remained unrealized. A policy reorientation to increase rural industrialization and skill improvement of the rural labour force is needed to move labour out of agriculture and increase productivity in agriculture. A better access of farmers to input and output markets, technology and rural infrastructure are needed. Initial results of the recent initiatives such as RKVY and NFSM appear satisfactory. These initiatives may be supplemented by incentivizing private sector to invest more in agriculture. Although, National Food Security Act is beneficial to provide eco- nomic access in the short-run, more sustainable policies of improving rural incomes through livelihood security need to be adopted.
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