Monday, September 19, 2011

India's Agricultural Sector

India has a large and diverse agricultural sector, accounting, on average, for about 16 percent of GDP and 10 percent of export earnings. Its arable land area of 159.7 million hectares (394.6 million acres) is the second largest in the world (after the United States), and its gross irrigated crop area of 82.6 million hectares (215.6 million acres) is the largest in the world. India is among the top three global producers of a broad range of crops, including wheat, rice, pulses (chickpeas, pigeon peas, lentils, dry peas, etc.), cotton, peanuts, fruits, and vegetables. Worldwide, India has the largest herds of buffalo and cattle, is the largest producer of milk, and has one of the largest and fastest growing poultry industries.

India achieved strong growth in food grain production during the 1970s and 1980s because of its extensive agricultural resource base, the introduction of high-yielding wheat and rice varieties, and supportive government policies. This enabled India to achieve its key policy goal of self-reliance in cereals during 1990-2010. However, gains in farm output, including cereals, slowed beginning in the early 1990s, even as growth in the rest of the economy strengthened. Yields of most major crops in India remain low by world standards, as the development and use of high-yielding varieties, irrigation, and modern inputs has been slow to spread beyond wheat and rice production.

While cereal imports have declined, India is now among the world’s leading importers of edible oils and pulses and is a rapidly expanding market for an array fruit, vegetable, and processed food products. Despite rising imports, India remains a substantial net agricultural exporter. About half of its agricultural exports consist of traditional items—including tea, coffee, spices, fruits and nuts, and tobacco—but nontraditional items—including rice, meat, and soybean meal—now account for a growing share of farm exports.

With a population now approaching 1.2 billion, India is the world’s largest democracy and its second most populous nation, after China. Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 5.7 percent annually during the 1990s and accelerated to 7.8 percent annually during the 2000s, making India the second fastest growing major economy in the world during each period (after China). India’s economy, as measured by GDP, is Asia's third largest, after Japan and China.

India's annual population growth rate declined from 2.2 percent in the 1980s and 2.0 percent in the 1990s to 1.6 percent during 2001-2010, and is projected at 1.2 percent during 2011-2020.

Although about 70 percent of India’s population remains rural and about 58 percent of the population relies primarily on agriculture for income and employment, the urban population is growing at more than 2.0 percent annually.

source: usda

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