Crop Productivity Trends in India

Before independence the productivity of food grains in India showed a decline. With the introduction of economic planning in 1950-51, and with special emphasis on agricultural development, there was a steady increase in the area, productivity as well as in yield per hectare.


During the pre-green revolution period, rice recorded the most impressive growth rate in yield from merely 7 quintals per hectare in 1949-50 to 11 quintals by 1964-65. The annual rate of growth was 2.1 per cent. The yield growth rate of wheat during the same period was increased from 6.6 q. to 9.1 quintals per hectare. Among non-food grains, cotton and sugarcane recorded modest growth rates.

During the post green revolution period, the most spectacular growth rate was recorded by wheat (3.2%) and potato too recorded an impressive growth rate of 3.0% per year. Rice also registered a slow but steady rise of 2.1 % .per year.

Still India’s productivity and yield per hectare has been lower than other countries such as US , Canada and China. This is mainly because of less advanced technology and farm inputs. There are limitations to the expansion of area for cultivation.

In last three decades, India has seen significant progress towards increasing production, yield levels and crop diversification. Still, the agricultural productivity in India i.e. average yield per hectare is among the lowest in the world.

Agricultural production in India viz. area, productivity per hectare and total output is influenced by a large number of factors like rainfall, weather conditions, etc. Multiple cropping, improvement in yield levels and shifts in area for certain crops hold the key to the long-term output growth.

The trends in crop productivity in India can be summarized as below:

  • Among food crops, increased area under cereals and decreased area under millets.
  • Among Food grains to non-food grains area, there is a gradual shift from Non-food grains to food-grains.
  • High MSP of wheat and rice has kept the farmers encouraged to grow them in more and more
  • Strategic objectives of India’s agriculture policy have been focussing on the increased food grain production.
  • Consumption pattern – Millets are inferior goods.

Causes for Low Productivity

Some of the main factors are as follows:

Overcrowding in agriculture

Disguised unemployment and low marginal productivity because too many people are directly dependent on farming.  The increase in population could not be absorbed in industries. Consequently, the pressure of population increased the pressure on land.  Increased population led to sub-division and fragmentation of holdings thus there was a decline in the area of land available for cultivation per capita.

Discouraging rural atmosphere

Indian farmers are mostly illiterate ignorant, superstitious and conservative and they feel satisfied with their primitive system of cultivation. Very few farmers are quick in following modern technology exposed to them; but vast majority of farmers are not motivated to learn and try new ways. However, this has steadily changed in recent years.

Inadequate Farm Credits

Farm Credits have been inadequate despite the efforts of the government and RBI to increase it. In recent times, Farm credits have grown steadily. The role of cooperatives has also expanded.

Lack of store facilities

Farmers are unable to secure storage facilities in towns and sometimes they were cheated by wholesalers and commission agents. The situation remains grim in most of the villages as of now. The government has launched a Rural Godown Scheme whose results are far from expectations.

Small Size of Holdings

The average size of holdings in India is very low and they are fragmented and small. Since they are small, scientific cultivation techniques cannot be adopted. Small sized holdings lead to great waste of time, labour and cattle power, difficulty in proper utilization of irrigation facilities and consequent litigation among farmers etc. So the small holdings are one of the causes for poor agricultural yield.

Poor techniques of production

Most farmers in India are tradition-bound and poor they have not aborted the techniques which are so widely adopted in the countries of the West and Japan. Only in recent years and that too to a limited extent, the farmers have started adopting improved implements like steel ploughs, sugarcane crushers, small pumping sets, water lifts, hose, seed drills etc.

Inadequate irrigation facilities

Indian agriculture is mostly dependent on rainfall and very few farmers avail the facility of artificial irrigation. Though more area was brought under irrigation, still there is a great scope for improving the irrigation facilities.

Law of inheritance

What steps should be taken to improve crop productivity?

There should be necessary programmes which demonstrate the technology and show the importance of crop rotation, multi-cropping etc. to the farmers. An Agricultural Mechanization Corporation can be established which can help an average farmer who cannot manage with hired labour. Greatest importance should be given to the promotion of transport, marketing facilities and consolidation of holdings. Improvement in storage facilities, providing tenant security, implementing the recommended projects in rural areas for improving the irrigation facilities for supplementing better quality seeds and for increasing awareness among the people about hybrids, varieties, disease resistant varieties, drought resistant varieties, etc. are the other major aspects to be concentrated upon. There is no scope for increasing the area of cultivation in future but through multiple cropping, relying on irrigation facilities, high yielding varieties, etc. we can raise the agricultural productivity.

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