Accounting for 14.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010-11 and engaging nearly 58 per cent of the workforce (in 2001), Indian agriculture continues to be the mainstay of the economy and critical to food security and inclusive growth. Agricultural growth has been quite volatile and for the last five years (2007-08 to 2011-12), it grew at an average rate of 3.3 per cent, against a targeted growth of 4 per cent. There is enough reason to be optimistic about the sector. India witnessed record production of 257.4 million tonnes of food grain in 2011-12, emerged as a net exporter of cereals during most of 1990s until 2011-12. Production of high value commodities have grown manifold over the years.
However there are challenges such as land fragmentation, small holdings (average size being 1.06 hectares (in 2003-04) which dampen the scope for economies of scale. Current practices of imbalanced used of fertilizers, over-depletion of groundwater and slow pace of diversification are indicative of a heavily subsidy driven approach which need to be rationalized. Increasing investments in agriculture, with the private sector leading can provide the right impetus to further accelerate growth.
CII has set up a Food and Agriculture Centre of Excellence (FACE) to contribute to the ongoing policy dialogue related to agriculture and food-security concerns. The Centre through its integrated approach of action oriented programs and capacity building will address the issues from the farm gate to the consumer end.