The causes for low productivity of Indian agriculture can be divided into 3 broad categories, namely, (1) General factors, (2) Institutional factors and (3) Technological factors.
1. General Factors
(a) Overcrowding in Agriculture:
The increasing pressure of population on land is an important demographic factor responsible for low yield in agriculture. The area of cultivated land per cultivator has declined from 0.43 hectare in 1901 to 0.23 hectare in 1981 despite an expansion of area under cultivation. Hence, agricultural sector has become overcrowded and this has adversely affected the agricultural productivity.
(b) Discouraging Rural Atmosphere: The Indian farmers, living in rural areas are generally tradition-bound, illiterate, ignorant, superstitious and conservative. Their attitude of apathy and neglect keeps the system of cultivation primitive. The farmers are not prepared to accept anything new as a consequence of which modernization of agriculture becomes difficult.
(c) Inadequate non-firm Services:
Shortage of finance, marketing and storage facilities are also responsible for agricultural backwardness in India. The co-operatives and other institutional agencies have not been able to eliminate the village money lenders. Storage facilities for farmers are not still available to preserve their agricultural product for a better price.
(d) Natural Calamities:
Indian agriculture is a gamble in the monsoon. If monsoon becomes favorable, we have a good crop; otherwise agriculture is affected by drought, flood and cyclone.
2. Institutional Factors
(a) Size of Holding:
The small size of holdings in India is an impediment in the way of progressive agriculture. The average size of holdings in India is less than 2 hectares. In case of very small firms, it is difficult to introduce new technology. Further, due to fragmentation of holdings a great deal of labour and energy is destroyed in cultivation.
(b) Pattern of Land Tenure:
The agrarian structure in India is not conducive for a progressive agriculture. The tendril relationships were such that the big landlords used to have a considerable influence on their respective areas. The actuarial cultivator had known incentive for improvement and more production. Though the zamindari system has been abolished, absentee landlordism still prevails; heavy rents are still extracted and there is no security of tenancy. Under these circumstances, it is unwise to expect any remarkable increase in agricultural productivity due to the apathetic attitude of the tillers of the land.
3. Technological Factors
(a) Poor Technique of Production:
The technique of production adopted by Indian farmers is old, outdated and inefficient. The tradition-bound poor farmers have not yet been able to adopt the modern methods to get the best yield from their land. The seeds they use are of poor quality and the age- old, traditional wooden plough still exists in Indian agriculture. The farmers do not enjoy the benefits of agricultural research and development programmes. They consider agriculture as a way of life rather than a business proposition. Therefore, production remains at a low level.
(b) Inadequate Irrigational Facilities:
Indian agriculture is a gamble in monsoon due to non availability of irrigation facilities. In spite of several measures, irrigation has not substantially increased in India.
Measures to Improve Productivity:
The F.A.O. has suggested following measures to increase the productivity of Indian agriculture:
1. The farmers should be provided with a stable price for their agricultural products at a remunerative level.
2. There should be an expansion of adequate marketing facilities to sell the agricultural product.
3. The land tenure system should be changed in favour of the cultivator.
4. There should be a provision of cheap credit on reasonable terms especially to small farmers for better techniques of production.
5. The modern inputs like fertilisers. Pesticides and improved seeds should be made available to the farmers at reasonable prices.
6. There should be provisions of education, research and extension of agro-economic services to spread the knowledge of improved methods of farming.
7. The State should make provision for the development of resources which are not possible in the part of individual farmers e.g. large scale irrigation, land reclamation or resettlement projects.
8. There should be an extension of land used and intensification and utilisation of land already in use through improved and scientific implements.