Indian Agriculture Under the Five-Year Plans

First Five-Year Plan (1951-56):

Agriculture was given the topmost priority in the First Five-Year Plan. The Plan was mainly directed towards increasing agricultural production and strengthening economic infrastructures like irrigation, power and transport after independence, there was an acute food shortage in the country and to solve the food problem priority was given to increase production of food grains.

The abolition of zamindari system, the launching of the community development programme, growing more food campaign along with improvement in other related spheres like marketing, fisheries, animal husbandry, soil conservation and forestry were the notable features of the First Five-Year Plan. There was a remarkable increase in agricultural production during the First Plan period.

The production of food grains increased from 54 million tones in 1950-51 to 65.8 million tones at the end of the Plan. Production of all agricultural commodities increased by 22.2 per cent to 32 per cent of the total outlay during the First Plan was to be spent on agriculture and irrigation. The targets sent out for the Plan were almost achieved, and, even in some cases, exceeded. A good monsoon was helpful for the success of agriculture during the First Plan period.

Second Five-Year Plan (1956-61):

In the second plan, emphasis was shifted from agriculture to industry and only about 21 per cent of the actual plan expenditure was spent for agricultural development. The food production rose from 65.8 million tones to 79.7 million tones as against the fixed target of 80.5 million tones. There was a short­fall in the production of all crops except sugarcane, As a result of this unsatisfactory agricultural production; the country had to import food grains from abroad to overcome the food shortage. During this Plan, an inflationary situation started in the economy.

Third Five-Year Plan (1961-66):

The objective of the Third Five-Year Plan was to achieve self-sufficiency in food grains and to increase the agricultural production to meet the needs of industry and export- The plan accorded higher priority (20.5 per cent) to agriculture and irrigation than to industrial development (20.1 per cent).

The Plan targeted to increase overall agricultural production by 30 per cent, but the achievements were disappointing. The actual output of food grains was 88.4 million tones in 1964-65 and 72.3 million tons in 1965-66, caused due to the drought condition of 1965-66. The food production increased by 10 per cent only as against the target of 30 per cent. Consequently, the country has to import Rs. 1,100 crores worth of food grains to meet the domestic demand.

Three Annual Plans (1966-69):

During this period, a high priority was given to minor irrigation and this was followed by adoption of a high yielding variety programme to increase agricultural production and productivity. Thus, this period is considered crucial for Indian agriculture as the green revolution took place during this period and the Government set up Agricultural Prices Commission to assure minimum support prices to farmers and the Food Corporation of India for maintaining buffer-stock to overcome fluctuation in the supplies of food grains and their prices.

Due to implementation of H.Y.V. programme, there was a recorded food grain production of 95.6 million tones in 1967-68 and 1968-69.

Fourth Five-Year Plan (1969-74):

The Fourth Plan had two objectives in the agricultural sector; (i) to provide the conditions necessary for a sustained increase of food production by about 5 per cent per annum over the decade 1969-78 and (ii) to enable a large section of the rural population including small farmers, farmers in the dry areas and agricultural labourers to participate in the process of agricultural development and share its benefit.

The Green Revolution introduced during the annual plans had a good result and the farmers particularly in the wheat-producing belt were here interested to adopt H.Y.V. cultivation. The actual production of food grain was 104.7 million tones in 1973-74 as against the targeted increase of 129 million tones.

Fifth Five-Year Plan (1974-79):

During the Fifth Plan, Rs. 8080 crores (nearly 21 per cent of the plan outlay) was made for agricultural development and irrigation. The Fifth Plan accorded priority for the spread of H.Y.V. cultivation, double or multiple, greater use of fertilizer pesticides and insecticides to increase agricultural production.

The Plan further provided special emphasis on; (i) small and marginal farmers, (ii) dry farming technique, (iii) evolving H.Y.V. seeds for other crops like paddy, (iv) social conservation measures on saline and alkaline soils and for desert land reclamation.

During this Fifth Plan, the production of food grains increased substantially i.e. 232.5 million tones. But the output of pulses and oil-seeds, paddy remained stagnant and caused considerable hardship for the common man.

Sixth Five-Year Plan (1979-83):

The Sixth Five-Year Plan recognised that the growth of the Indian economy depends significantly on a rapid growth in agriculture and rural development. The main objective of the Plan, therefore, was to increase agricultural production, generate employment and income opportunities in rural areas and strengthen the forces of modernization for achieving self-reliance.

Further, the plan aimed at accelerating the pace of the implementation of the land reforms and institution building for beneficiaries. The Sixth Plan aimed at 3.8 per cent annual growth in agricultural production. But, the actual growth-rate was 4.3 per cent. The Sixth Plan was officially held as a great success particularly due to its success on the agricultural fund.

Seventh Five-Year Plan (1983-87):

The Seventh Plan aimed at an annual average increase of 4 per cent in agricultural production. The Plan allocated Rs. 39,770 crores for agricultural sector which is 22 per cent of the total plan outlay. The major programmes adopted during the plan were, a special rice production programme in the eastern region, national water-shed programme for rain-fed agriculture, national oil-seed development project and social forestry.

Unfortunately enough, the first three years of the Seventh Plan were poor monsoon years. As a result, agricultural production received a set-back during these years. However, it increased sufficiently during the last two years for which the agricultural production recorded a commendable growth of 4.1 per cent in the Seventh Plan as against the target of as per cent rice.

Eighth Five-Year Plan (1987-91):

The basic objectives of the Eighth Five-Year Plan were

(i) To consolidate the gains already achieved in agricultural productivity and production during the last 40 years;

(ii) To sustain agricultural productivity and production in order to meet the increased demands of the growing population;

(iii) To enlarge the income of the farmers;

(iv) To create more-employment opportunities in the agricultural sector; and

(v) To step up agricultural exports.

22 per cent of the total plan outlay amounting to Rs. 93,680 crores was allotted for agriculture and irrigation. The Plan targets a growth rate of 4.1 per cent per annum for the agricultural sector.

Thus, during different plan periods, the Government has accorded vital importance to the agricultural sector and has tried to increase the agricultural production and productivity through different policy measures.

(i) Special rice production programme, initiated by the Government in Assam, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal and eastern Uttar Pradesh.

(ii) National water-shed development programme which gives emphasis on dry land horticulture, optimal cropping system, firm forestry and fodder production. Here, the aim is to develop areas under dry land agriculture which are characterized by low productivity and high risk.