The following points highlight the seven top elements of agricultural policy followed since Independence in India.
The elements are: 1. Land Reforms 2. Consolidation of Holdings and Co-operation 3. Introduction of New Technology 4. Policy for Involving People’s Participation 5. Agricultural Price Policy 6. Agricultural Credit 7. Other Elements.
Agricultural Policy: Element # 1.
During the post-independence period, the first important measure undertaken by the Government to improve the lot of agriculturist is the introduction of land reform measures for abolishing intermediary tenure like zamindary, ryotwary etc. These measures include abolition of intermediaries, tenancy reforms like regulation of rents and conferment of ownership and finally imposition of ceiling on land holding.
These measures were adopted for eliminating rentier or parasite class from the society and also for abolishing all forms of exploitation of the tenants. But the land reforms in India could not achieve much success and thus the aspiration of the planners was not satisfied.
Agricultural Policy: Element # 2.
Consolidation of Holdings and Co-operation:
The agricultural policy in India introduced the scheme for consolidation of holding and co-operation for preventing continuous sub-division and fragmentation of holdings. Consolidation of holding avoids wastage of land, time and energy and enables the farmers to practice modernized methods of production.
Agricultural Policy: Element # 3.
Introduction of New Technology:
The Indian agricultural policy made certain provisions for the introduction of new technology in agriculture. This indicates the application of both extensive and intensive methods of cultivation. Thus in 1966, a new package programme was introduced in India in selected regions.
To raise the volume of agricultural output in the country, various schemes of production including application of HYV seeds, fertilizers and pesticides were introduced.
Accordingly, total production of food grains has increased from’50.8 million tonnes in 1950-51 to 208.3 million tonnes in 2005-06. But this policy of introduction of new technology in agriculture is very much restricted into some particular states leading to widespread disparity in productivity and income among the various states.
Agricultural Policy: Element # 4.
Policy for Involving People’s Participation:
In 1952, the Programme of Community Development was introduced in order to involve the common people for carrying out plans and programmes framed for their upliftment and betterment. But experience shows that the Community Development Programme could not show a satisfactory performance.
Again the Panchayati Raj—a system of democratic decentralization was introduced in order to encourage mass participation in the planning process. This system also could not provide much benefit to rural masses as the local leaders representing these panchayats indulge into exploitation of masses, political bickering and corruptions.
Agricultural Policy: Element # 5.
Agricultural Price Policy:
In order to ensure remunerative prices of their product and fair returns, the Government announces procurement prices and minimum support prices of the agricultural produce. In recent years, Agricultural Prices Commission has been announcing fairly high and remunerative prices just to provide incentive to the farmers for expanding their production.
This policy has been helping the large farmers more as they have more marketable surplus.
Agricultural Policy: Element # 6.
The Government has introduced another important policy measure for the expansion of institutional credit base to farmers of the country especially through co-operatives and commercial banks. Accordingly, the share of co-operatives in the disbursement of total credit has increased from a mere 3.1 per cent in 1951-52 to nearly 33 per cent at present. After nationalisation of commercial banks in 1969, these banks started to earmark more credit to agricultural sectors.
Moreover, Regional Rural Banks were established to deal with the problem of agricultural credit. Again a National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD) has also been established with the same purpose.
But the major benefits from this policy of institutional credit to agriculture have been appropriated by large-farmers and the small and marginal farmers still continue to depend upon village moneylenders.
Agricultural Policy: Element # 7.
The Indian agricultural policy also includes some other elements noted below:
(a) Making provision and extension of irrigation facilities through the development of major and medium irrigation projects and also arranging power for minor irrigation through rural electrification scheme.
(b) Improving and developing the agricultural marketing system by developing regulated markets and introducing various measures such as grading and standardisation of agricultural output, standardisation of weights and measures, providing market information and also strengthening cooperative marketing structure.
(c) Providing storage and warehousing facilities so as to build adequate buffer stock and also to save the farmers from distress sale of their farm output.
(d) Improving the economic condition of agricultural workers through the enforcement of minimum wage Act, abolition of bonded labour, transferring surplus land to landless cultivators and introducing programme of rural employment etc.
(e) Promotion of agricultural research and training for further development of agricultural practices through research institutes, agricultural universities and also through Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). Moreover, the Training and Visit (T&V) system was introduced during the Sixth Plan for the improvement of extension functionaries and to establish a close linkage between research institutions and farmers.
(f) In order to extend the green revolution coverage to the Eastern region and also to develop dry land areas, the Seventh Plan introduced two specific programmes like (i) Special Rice Production Programme and (ii) National Watershed Development Programme for rainfed agriculture.
(g) With the intention to increase the production of pulses, another centrally sponsored programme National Pulses Development Programme was introduced in 1986-87. Again National Oilseeds Development Project (NODP) was also launched in 1984-85 for helping the farmers to raise the production of the oilseeds.
In 1987, another Oilseeds Production Thrust Projects (OPTP) was launched and hundred per cent central assistance was advanced to 17 states for the production of rapeseed, mustard, groundnut, soya bean and sunflower. Again in 1990-91, both these two projects were merged under Oilseeds Production Programme (OPP).
(h) In 1985, a comprehensive Crop Insurance Scheme was introduced throughout the country for providing financial support “to farmers in times of crop failure as a result of natural calamities and to restore farmers’ credit eligibility after a crop failure.