India is largely an agricultural country. Eighty per cent of her vast populations live, directly or indirectly, on income derived from agriculture. But to say that India lives by agriculture does not mean that India is agriculturally advanced. Rather she is extremely backward in this respect. Her annual yield of crops per acre is lamentably below what it ought to be.
There was a time when small plots of land, cultivated by individual farmers who followed age-old methods, summed up the position of Indian agricultural system.
The employment of scientific technique, especially in America and Russia, has achieved tremendous progress. In the first place, machines have superseded manual labour. That means a larger acreage is brought under cultivation in more efficient manner. Secondly, the fertility of the soil has been increased by scientific, i.e. chemical manuring. Thirdly, new crops of a better quality and higher yield have been introduced. Fourthly, highly improved methods of irrigation and crop-protection and storing have been adopted.
Fortunately, India in recent times has brought about a Green Revolution, resulting not only in self-sufficiency but also surplus production of food. India has now a huge buffer stock of foodstuffs and she is in a position to export food grains.
There are other problems connected with our soil organization. There is the problem of agricultural indebtedness.
It is necessary to modernise the antiquated outlook of our peasants. This is not to be done by a few touring officers delivering lectures. Establishment of Gramin Banks and the village Panchayets has largely improved the situation. Still much remains to be done. Large numbers of trained officers with modern equipment are necessary to ensure a new outlook.
All this needs far-sighted planning. When the ownership of land is restored to the cultivators, and determined efforts are made to modernize their outlook, agriculture in India will flourish much more. It is good, therefore, that the abolition of private proprietary rights in lands is being followed by Plans to introduce co-operative farming.
It is a good sign that the claims of agriculture have been taken into adequate consideration in our successive Five-Year Plans. Now greater emphasis has been placed on the development of agriculture than ever before.