Land Use and Agriculture: Development Policies during Five-Year Plans

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Agricultural Development Policies During Five-Year Plans

  • The agriculture in India during five-year plans has registered a phenomenal growth. At the time of Independence, partition of Indian sub-continent on communal lines, resulted among others in acute shortage of food and raw material for her industries. Therefore, during First Five-Year Plan (1951-56) the highest priority was accorded to increase of agricultural production. Nearly 1/3rd or 31 % of total plan funds were allocated to agriculture sector. River valley projects were taken up. Irrigational facilities and fertilizer plants were established. Consequently, production of food grains increased by 36 % in a short span of five years.

  • The Second Five-Year Plan (1956-61) was focused on industrial growth and only 20 % of plan allocation was devoted to agriculture. Still food grains production exceeded the target due to the extension of irrigation facilities and use of chemical fertilizers.

  • During the Third Five-Year Plan (1961-66), the priorities were on self-sufficiency in food grains, meeting the raw material needs of industries, and increase in exports. During this period, the Green Revolution programme was started on a small scale. But this plan failed to meet the target due to Chinese aggression (1962), Indo-Pak war (1965), and severe and prolonged drought during 1965-66. There was a great crisis of food that forced the then Prime Minister L. B. Shastri to appeal to people to observe fast once a week.

  • During the next three annual plans (1966-69) agriculture recorded 6-9 % annual growth under the impact of Green Revolution. The production of food grain touched 94 million tonnes.

  • The Fourth Plan (1969-74) aimed at 5 % annual growth in food grains. High Yielding Variety (HYV) of seeds, fertilizer use, new agriculture techniques, and irrigation facilities provided to expand the area of Green Revolution. The production of wheat increased sharply but growth in rice, oilseeds, and coarse grains were nominal resulting in only 3 % annual growth against the target of 5 %.

  • During Fifth Plan Period (1974-79) emphasis were given to self-sufficiency in food production and poverty eradication. Stress was laid on the extension of irrigation, expansion in cultivated area under HYV seeds, and grant of loans and subsidies to farmers. Dry farming was propagated. This plan achieved its target successfully with 4.6 % growth. Almost all food grains except pulses witnessed increase in production.

  • The Sixth Plan (1980-85) emphasized on land reforms, use of HYV seeds, chemical fertilisers, groundwater resources, and improving post-harvest technology as well as marketing and storage facilities. The annual growth rate was 6 %, highest ever during plan periods. The food grain production reached 152 million tonnes.

  • The highest growth in food-grain, pulses, and coarse cereals was recorded during Seventh Plan (1985-90) showing over all annual growth rate of 4 %. The areas of Green Revolution were expanded during the period.

  • The Eighth Plan (1992-97) witnessed a tendency of stagnation in food grain production while oilseed registered a rapid growth.

  • The Ninth Plan (1997-02) witnessed a mixed success. There were fluctuations in the food grain production. During this plan period National Agricultural Policy, 2000, was framed and several measures were announced including, watershed management, development of horticulture, agricultural credits, and insurance scheme for crops.

  • In the Tenth Plan (2002-2007) focus is placed on sustainable management of water and land resources, development of rural infrastructure to support agriculture, dissemination of agriculture technology, credit flow to agriculture sector, and agricultural marketing reforms.

The New Agricultural Policy

image of new faming policy

Image of New Faming Policy

The Government of India has announced (28th July 2000) a new National Agricultural policy, 2000, in the light of changes arising out of economic liberalization and globalization. The main aims of the policy are: achieving more than 4 % per annum growth rate in agriculture sector, growth based on efficient use of resources and conservation of soil, water, and biodiversity, growth with equity in region and among the farmers, growth that caters to domestic market and maximizes benefits from exports of agricultural products, and technologically, environmentally and economically sustainable growth.

The main features of this policy are:

  • Privatisation of agriculture and price protection of produce.

  • Land leasing and contract farming by private companies.

  • Raising the ceiling of land holdings.

  • Involving national livestock breeding strategy to meet requirement of milk, meat, egg, and livestock products.

  • Protection of plant varieties and improvement of horticultural crops, livestock species, and agriculture.

  • Liberalization of domestic market by dismantling of restriction on movement of commodities in the country.

  • Improving the domestic and international marketing system.

  • Facilitating the flow of credit to farmers against pledging of their products and providing them most other facilities available to manufacturing sector.

  • Keeping agriculture outside the regulatory and tax collection system.

  • Encouraging consolidation of land holdings and speeding up tenancy reforms to recognize the right of the tenants and sharecroppers.

  • It may be noted that the policy are intentions of Government, thus, its success depends on the commitment of the Government to convert it into reality.

In brief, it can be said that

  • India has different types of land uses. About 47 % of its total area is under cultivation leaving very little scope for brining further land under cultivation. The food for rapidly growing population can be provided only by improving productivity per hectare of land as cultivable land in India is only 13 %. There is need of increasing forest land for ecological balance.

  • Animal rearing is an important economic activity in India. It accounts for a quarter of the total agricultural output. India has the highest number of livestock but the quality of livestock is very poor. Efforts are being made to improve the quality of animals through Operation Flood. As a result, India is now leading in milk production in the world. Fisheries is also an important occupation in India.

  • Rice, wheat, sugarcane, cotton, and tea are important crops grown in India. Efforts are being made to increase production of fruits, vegetables, spices, and flowers. The importance of these crops has increased due to global opportunities in export of agricultural commodities. India can earn a sizable amount of foreign exchanges with export of these items.

  • The government of India has formulated a New Agricultural Policy in 2000 in the light of economic liberalization. In the policy, emphasis have been placed on privatization of agriculture, increasing animal products, aquaculture, floriculture, improving domestic and international market systems, and facilitating credit flow to the farmers.

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