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State PCS

Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. What are the main challenges facing India's agricultural sector, and what policies are being implemented to address these challenges?

    22 Mar, 2023 GS Paper 3 Economy


    • Start your answer by briefly introducing the status of agricultural sector in India.
    • Discuss challenges and various policies to tackle these challenges.
    • Conclude accordingly.


    • India is an agricultural-based country, where more than half of the population is engaged in farming activities, contributing to the country's GDP. However, India's agricultural sector faces several challenges that have impeded its growth and development.
      • The sector is plagued by issues such as low productivity, declining soil fertility, water scarcity, climate change, fragmented landholdings, and lack of access to technology and markets.
      • These challenges have resulted in low yields, low profitability, and inadequate income for farmers, leading to farmer distress and migration from rural areas to urban areas.


    • Challenges faced by India's agricultural sector:
      • Declining Soil Fertility: India's agriculture is heavily dependent on soil health, and declining soil fertility is a major challenge faced by the sector.
        • The excessive use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides has degraded the soil quality, reducing its fertility and productivity.
        • This has resulted in low crop yields and poor soil health, posing a significant challenge for sustainable agricultural development.
      • Water Scarcity: India is a water-stressed country, with only 4% of the world's freshwater resources and 16% of the world's population.
        • The agriculture sector is the largest consumer of water, accounting for around 80% of the total water consumption.
          • However, the availability of water has been declining due to overexploitation, poor management, and climate change, leading to water scarcity and droughts in several regions.
      • Fragmented Landholdings: The majority of farmers in India are small and marginal, with fragmented landholdings. Fragmentation leads to inefficiencies in farming operations, reduces access to credit, and limits economies of scale.
        • Moreover, it limits the adoption of modern technology and irrigation systems, leading to low productivity and low yields.
      • Low Productivity: India's agricultural sector is plagued by low productivity, with yields significantly lower than the global average.
        • This is primarily due to poor farm practices, inadequate access to technology and information, and lack of infrastructure.
        • The low productivity levels lead to low profitability, inadequate income for farmers, and limited investment in the sector.
      • Lack of Access to Technology and Markets: Access to technology and markets is critical for the growth and development of the agricultural sector.
        • However, Indian farmers have limited access to modern technology and markets, which restricts their ability to improve productivity, reduce costs, and increase profitability.
          • Moreover, the lack of market linkages and infrastructure results in low prices for farmers, limiting their ability to earn a decent income.
      • Climate change: Climate change poses a significant challenge to India's agriculture sector, with changing weather patterns affecting crop yields and productivity.
        • Extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, and cyclones, have become more frequent, posing a threat to food security and agricultural sustainability.
    • Policies Implemented to Address These Challenges:
      • Increasing Investment in Irrigation: The government has initiated several programs to increase investment in irrigation and improve water management.
        • The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) aims to provide access to irrigation to all farmers in the country.
          • Additionally, the government has launched the Atal Bhujal Yojana, which aims to improve groundwater management in priority areas.
          • These initiatives aim to increase the availability of water for agriculture, improve water-use efficiency, and reduce water scarcity.
      • Promoting Crop Diversification: The government has been promoting crop diversification to reduce the pressure on water resources and soil fertility.
        • The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) aims to provide insurance coverage and financial support to farmers who grow non-traditional crops.
        • Similarly, the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) provides support for promoting crop diversification and sustainable agriculture practices.
      • Improving Infrastructure: The government has been investing in improving rural infrastructure, including roads, storage facilities, and market linkages.
        • The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) aims to improve rural connectivity and increase access to markets.
        • Similarly, the National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) aims to create a national market for agricultural commodities, enabling farmers to sell their produce at better prices.
      • Providing Subsidies: The government provides subsidies for inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, and irrigation equipment, aimed at reducing the cost of cultivation for farmers.
        • Similarly, the government provides subsidies for crop insurance, which provides financial support to farmers in case of crop loss.
      • Introducing Technology-Based Solutions: The government has launched several initiatives aimed at providing farmers with access to modern technology, information, and advisory services.
        • The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-KISAN) provides financial support to small and marginal farmers, enabling them to invest in modern technology and improve productivity.
          • Similarly, the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme aims to provide farmers with access to credit for investing in technology and inputs.


    • India's agricultural sector is facing several challenges, which are limiting its growth and development. However, the government has implemented several policies aimed at addressing these challenges.
      • While these policies have the potential to improve the agriculture sector's performance, several implementation challenges and gaps need to be addressed to ensure their success. A collaborative effort between the government, private sector, and farmers is essential for the sustainable development of India's agriculture sector.

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