Agriculture in India:
Information About Indian Agriculture & Its ImportanceAgriculture start-ups is an emerging area, which can unleash umpteen opportunities for start-ups and strengthen the supply chain in India agriculture.

Introduction

Agriculture plays a vital role in India’s economy. Over 58 per cent of the rural households depend on agriculture as their principal means of livelihood. Agriculture, along with fisheries and forestry, is one of the largest contributors to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As per the 2nd advised estimates by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the share of agriculture and allied sectors (including agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishery) is expected to be 17.3 per cent of the Gross Value Added (GVA) during 2016-17 at 2011-12 prices.India is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices and spice products. India’s fruit production has grown faster than vegetables, making it the second largest fruit producer in the world. India’s horticulture output, is estimated to be 287.3 million tonnes (MT) in 2016-17 after the first advance estimate. It ranks third in farm and agriculture outputs. Agricultural export constitutes 10 per cent of the country’s exports and is the fourth-largest exported principal commodity. The agro industry in India is divided into several sub segments such as canned, dairy, processed, frozen food to fisheries, meat, poultry, and food grains.The Department of Agriculture and Cooperation under the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for the development of the agriculture sector in India. It manages several other bodies, such as the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), to develop other allied agricultural sectors.

Market Size

India’s GDP is expected to grow at 7.1 per cent in FY 2016-17, led by growth in private consumption, while agriculture GDP is expected to grow above-trend at 4.1 per cent to Rs 1.11 trillion (US$ 1,640 billion).$ As per the 2nd Advance Estimates, India’s food grain production is expected to be 271.98 MT in 2016-17. Production of pulses is estimated at 22.14 MT.

India’s exports of basmati rice may rise to Rs 22,000-22,500 crore (US$ 3.42-3.49 billion), with volume to around 4.09 MT in 2017-18, backed by a rise in average realisations.#

Wheat production in India is expected to touch an all-time high of 96.6 MT during 2016-17.!

Groundnut exports from India are expected to cross 700,000 tonnes during FY 2016-17 as compared to 537,888 tonnes during FY 2015-16, owing to the expected 70 per cent increase in the crop size due to good monsoons. India’s groundnut exports rose to 653,240 MT during April 2016-February 2017.@ India

’s export of grapes to Europe and China are expected to increase by 10 to 20 per cent this year on back of higher production on account of good monsoon and higher demand due to competitors such as Chile shifting focus to US market.

Spices exports from India grew by 9 per cent in volume and 5 per cent in value year-on-year to 660,975 tonnes and US$ 1.87 billion respectively, during April-December 2016.

Investments

According to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the Indian agricultural services and agricultural machinery sectors have cumulatively attracted Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) equity inflow of about US$ 2,315.33 million from April 2000 to December 2016.

Some major investments and developments in agriculture are as follows:^^

  • India and Brazil have signed a bilateral investment agreement, aimed at enhancing cooperation in areas of agriculture, cattlegenomics, ship building, pharmaceuticals, defence production, ethanol production and oil and gas, between the countries.
  • Zephyr Peacock, the India-focused private equity fund of US-based Zephyr Management, has invested an undisclosed amount in Bengaluru-based potato seeds firm Utkal Tubers India Pvt Ltd, which will be used to produce high-quality mini-tubers in a tissue culture laboratory and multiply them in its own development farms and through supervised contract farming in different regions of the country.
  • Mahindra Agri Solutions Ltd (MASL), a unit of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, has agreed to purchase 60 per cent stake in OFD Holding BV, a Netherlands-based fruit distribution company, for Rs 36 crore (EUR 5 million), which will provide MASL access to European and Chinese markets for Indian grapes.

Government Initiatives

Given the importance of the agriculture sector, the Government of India, in its Budget 2017–18, planned several steps for the sustainable development of agriculture-

  • Total allocation for rural, agricultural and allied sectors for FY 2017-18 has been increased by 24 per cent year-on-year to Rs 1,87,223 crore (US$ 28.1 billion). A dedicated micro-irrigation fund will be set up by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) with a corpus of Rs 5,000 crore (US$ 750 million). The government plans to set up a dairy processing fund of Rs 8,000 crore (US$ 1.2 billion) over three years with initial corpus of Rs 2,000 crore (US$ 300 million).
  • The participation of women in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act (MGNREGA) has increased to 55 per cent and allocation to the scheme has been increased to a record Rs 48,000 crore (US$ 7.2 billion) for FY2017-18.
  • Short-term crop loans up to Rs 300,000 (US$ 4,500) at subsidised interest rate of 7 per cent per annum would be provided to the farmers. An additional incentive of 3 per cent is provided to farmers for prompt repayment of loans within due date, making an effective interest rate for them at 4 per cent.

Some of the recent major government initiatives in the sector are as follows:

  • The NITI Aayog has proposed various reforms in India’s agriculture sector, including liberal contract farming, direct purchase from farmers by private players, direct sale by farmers to consumers, and single trader license, among other measures, in order to double rural income in the next five years. The Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, has been conducting various consultations and seeking suggestions from numerous stakeholders in the agriculture sector, in order to devise a strategy to double the income of farmers by 2022.
  • The Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board (MSAMB) has operationalised 31 farmer-to-consumer markets in the state, and plans to open 100 more such markets in the future, which would facilitate better financial remunerations for the farmers by allowing them to directly sell their produce in open markets.
  • The Ministry of Labour and Employment plans to amend the Minimum Wage Act to raise the daily minimum wage of unskilled agricultural labour in C-class towns to Rs 350 (US$ 5.2) in the central sphere, from the current wage of Rs 160 (US$ 2.4) per day.
  • The Central Government plans to open at least one Krishi Vigyan Kendra in all districts of the country, which will provide advanced agriculture technical assistance to the farmers near their farms itself.
  • The Government of Karnataka plans to invest around Rs 1 trillion (US$ 15.1 billion) for developing irrigation projects across the state to mitigate the impact of deficient rainfall and resulting drought on agriculture in recent years.
  • The Government of India and the Government of Israel have expressed their commitment to further strengthen bilateral relations in the field of agriculture and allied sectors, as well as enhance cooperation at the government-to-government and business-to-business levels between the two countries, in a bid to further enhance the relationship.
  • According to the Agriculture Ministry, 50,000 hectares of area is available for coconut cultivation in Bihar, the Coconut Development Board plans to equip the farmers thus making India the world leader in production, productivity, processing for value addition and export of coconut.

Road Ahead

The agriculture sector in India is expected to generate better momentum in the next few years due to increased investments in agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation facilities, warehousing and cold storage. Factors such as reduced transaction costs and time, improved port gate management and better fiscal incentives would contribute to the sector’s growth. Furthermore, the growing use of genetically modified crops will likely improve the yield for Indian farmers.

India is expected to be self-sufficient in pulses in the coming few years due to concerted efforts of scientists to get early-maturing varieties of pulses and the increase in minimum support price. ##

Exchange rate used: INR 1 = US$ 0.0155 as of April 17, 2017.

References: The Economic Survey 2016–17, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), Department of Commerce and Industry, Union Budget 2017–18, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Press Releases, Media Reports,

Note: # – as per Investment Information and Credit Rating Agency (ICRA), ! – according to the second advance estimate of the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, @ – as per Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), $ – as per the Central Statistics Office, ^ – according to the Spices Board of India, ## – as per Mr Radha Mohan Singh, Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, ^^ – Since October 2016