The following points will highlight the three main factors of low productivity in Indian agriculture.

1. General Factors:

(a) Overcrowding in Agriculture:

The real problem of Indian agriculture is that there are too many people who depend on agriculture. The natu­ral increase in population could not be absorbed in industries.

Moreover, the dependence on agri­culture increased due to the decline of handicrafts. Overcrowding and the consequent pressure of population on land have led to sub-division and fragmentation of holdings, increase in man-land ratio, or a fall in per capita availability of land, disguised unemployment and almost zero marginal product of labour.


(b) Unhealthy Rural Atmosphere:

The In­dian farmers, generally speaking, are illiterate, ig­norant, superstitious, conservative and bound by old customs and institutions such as the caste sys­tem and the joint family system. Superstition and belief in fate are the curses which keep the farmers totally satisfied with their primitive system of cul­tivation. They are quite happy if they manage to get just two square meals a day. They are not am­bitious and thus are not much interested in improving their living standards through hard work and new investment.

(c) Inadequate Non-farm Services:

Indian agriculture has suffered because of the inadequacy of such non-farm services as provisions of finance, marketing, etc. The absence of marketing and credit facilities has obstructed the growth of this vitally important sector.

2. Institutional Factors:

(a) Size of Holdings:


The average size of hold­ing in India is very low, less than 2 hectares or 5 acres. Not only are agricultural holdings small but they are fragmented, too. So, no scientific cultiva­tion with improved implements is possible.

(b) Insecurity of Land Tenure:

A strong force behind low agricultural productivity has been the absence of proper incentives. The cultivator does not often own the land; he has to pay high rents for the land he cultivates; he has no security of ten­ancy; and he may be turned out of his land at any time if the land-owner desires. So, the landless worker has little, if any, desire to increase produc­tivity.

3. Technological Factors:

(a) Poor techniques of production:


The In­dian farmers have been using old and inefficient methods and techniques of production generation after generation. An increase in production is pos­sible only if proper and adequate manures are used. But in India, the use of both farmyard manure and chemical fertilisers is mostly inadequate. The im­portance of good quality seeds to increase, agri­cultural productivity is obvious. But Indian farm­ers have been using seeds of very poor quality for generations.

(b) Inadequate Irrigation Facilities:

One of the root causes of the backwardness of Indian agri­culture has been that most of the farmers through­out the country have to depend upon rainfall and very few of them can enjoy the facilities of artifi­cial irrigation.


We may now suggest some meas­uring for raising productivity in Indian agricul­ture. Firstly, attempts are being made to find alter­native employments for rural population and to change the occupational structure in such a way that only 50% of people continue to depend on agriculture (instead of 63% as at present). On the institutional front, the Government is trying to solve the agricultural problems through land re­forms.

On the technological front, a modest begin­ning has been made in conversing farmers to the use of improved implements, seeds and chemical manures. The Green Revolution illustrates the point. Irrigation facilities are being increasingly made available. Double cropping, better rotation of crops, fighting plant diseases and pests, etc. are given due emphasis.

However, productivity-en­hancing investment in agriculture, depends not only on the state of knowledge but also on condi­tions governing the adoption of such technology; it also depends on the land tenure system which determines how the agricultural produce is divided between owners of land and agricultural labour­ers; on the terms of trade between agriculture and industry, which determine the relative cheapness of industrial inputs vis-a-vis agricultural products and on the level of demand for agricultural prod­ucts.

Task Ahead:

Indian agriculture remained stagnant for a long period of time. This is why the Government adopted a new agricultural strategy in the mid- 1960s. This has solved India’s food problem. But much remains to be done.


The compound annual rate of growth (CARG) of agriculture rate was 2.8% during the period 1950-51 to 1999-00. Food-grains produc­tion increased from 508 million tones 1950-51 to 208.9 millions tones 1999-00, showing CARG of only 2.9 % which was just sufficient to meet the growing demand for food caused by 2.2 % CARG of population.

The fall in overall agricultural pro­duction growth after 1992 is largely due to fall in non-food-grains segment. Growth in non- food-grains production has declined to 2.5% per annum in the post-liberalisation period as against 4.8% during the 1980s. The average growth rate of food-grains production has fallen marginally from 2.9% to 2.7%.

In spite of this as also the drought in various parts of the country for two years in succession no major food problem arose, due to existence of record stocks of food-grains with the Government. So, the basic question faced by the planners and policy-makers is how to achieve a substantial breakthrough in agricultural production to feed the country’s growing popula­tion?

In the first 15 years of planning (1951-1966), most of the output increase was achieved by bring­ing new land under cultivation. But the growth rate in area has declined throughout the plan pe­riod. Thus, there is hardly any scope for raising production through this measure. Intensive culti­vation (with stress on multiple-cropping) seems to be the only way of increasing agricultural produc­tion and productivity.


In other words, in the com­ing years, the increase in agricultural output will have to come almost wholly through an increase in yield per acre. This will require the use of mod­ern seeds and fertilisers and the extension of irri­gation facilities. If a substantial gain in produc­tion is achieved it will be possible to solve the food problem and achieve long-term self-sufficiency in food-grains.