9th Five Year Plan (Vol-2)

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Agriculture, Irrigation, Food Security and Nutrition
Agriculture || Irrigation, Command Area Development and Flood Control || Food and Nutrition Security


4.1.1 Agriculture has all along been the most crucial sector of the Indian economy. Agriculture and allied activities make the single largest contribution to the Gross Domestic Product(GDP), accounting for almost 27 % of the total. Agriculture provides employment to around 65 % of the total work force.

  • Accounts for almost 27% of GDP.
  • Provides employment to around 65% of the total work force.
  • Contributes 21% of total exports.
  • Provides raw material to several industries.

Agricultural growth has direct impact on poverty eradication. The share of agricultural products in the total export earnings is also substantial. Many of the industries still depend on the agricultural sector for raw materials as well as for market. Agricultural growth is also an important factor in containing inflation, raising agricultural wages and for employment generation.

Fifty Years of Indian Agriculture

4.1.2 India inherited a stagnant agriculture at the time of independence in 1947. The first task of Indian Government in the immediate post-independence period was, therefore, to initiate growth process in agriculture. The agricultural policy was governed by a planning framework. The quantum of Plan outlay, its financing and the targets set for the agricultural sector were all decided through the planning process at the State and Central levels. The first three Five-Year Plans concentrated on growth with some institutional changes including abolition of intermediaries in agriculture, like Zamindars and Jagirdars. In the mid-Sixties, a new technology in the form of high-yielding varieties (HYVs) was introduced for cereals. Apart from the new technology, public investment in agriculture particularly in irrigation, was stepped up significantly. The public sector played an important role in promoting agricultural research and education. Large investments were made for the development of research system under the aegis of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the State Agricultural Universities (SAUs). Simultaneously, a well designed extension network was created for disseminating new technologies to the farmers. The administered price policy has provided incentives to the farmers. Successive Five-Year Plans aimed at improving the infrastructure through irrigation, stepping-up the use of fertilisers, improved varieties of seeds implements and machinery and supply of credit. As a result there has been a significant increase in the use of modern inputs leading to higher productivity and production.

4.1.3 The agricultural growth rate of around 2.7 % per annum in the post-independence period was much higher than the negligible growth rate of 0.3 % per annum in the first half of this century. The production of foodgrains increased from 50.8 million tonnes in 1950-51 to about 199.3 million tonnes in 1996-97. The production of commercial crops like cotton, oilseeds, sugarcane, fruits and vegetables, besides livestock products and fisheries have also recorded significant increases during the same period (Table 4.1.1).

Table 4.1.1 

Production of Major Crops and Allied Activities:
                     (1950-51 to 1996-97)             
                                                    (million tonnes)
  Crops        1950-51   1970-71    1980-81    1990-91    1996-97 
  Foodgrains	50.82	  108.42      129.59    179.39     199.32
  Rice          20.58      42.22       53.63     74.29      81.31
  Wheat          6.46      23.83       36.31     55.14      69.27
  C. Cereals    15.38      30.55       29.02     32.70      34.28
  Pulses         8.41      11.82       10.63     14.26      14.46
  Sugarcane     57.05     126.37      154.25    241.05     277.25
  Cotton (m.bls) 3.04       4.76        7.01      9.84      14.25
  Nine Oilseeds  5.16       9.63        9.37     18.61      24.96
  Milk          17.00      21.20       31.60     53.90      68.60
  Fish        	 0.80       1.80        2.40      3.80       5.35

Source: Agricultural Statistics at a Glance, 1997, Min. of Agriculture.


Investment in Agriculture

4.1.4 During the first three years of the Eighth Plan period, the public investment in agriculture (gross capital formation) has shown an upward trend from Rs.1002 crore in 1991-92 to Rs.1316 crore in 1994-95. In the subsequent two-year period, it declined. However, there has been a steady increase in private investment from Rs.3727 crores in 1991-92 to Rs.5867 crore in 1996-97. Decelerating trends in public investment is a matter of concern given the complementary nature of public and private investments.

Table 4.1.2

Agricultural Investment (at 1980-81 constant prices)
                                   (Rs. In crore)
Year    	Tota         	Public   	Private   	      % share
         	GCF i       	(GCF)   	(GCF)     	-------------------
          Agri                                     Public    Private
1991-92     	4729    	1002     	3727     	  21.2        78.8
1992-93     	5372    	1061     	4311     	  19.7        80.3
1993-94   	5031    	1153     	3878     	  22.9        77.1
1994-95   	6256    	1316     	4940     	  21.0        79.0
1995-96(Q)	6961  		1268     	5693     	  18.2        81.8
1996-97(Q)	6999  		1132     	5867     	  16.2        83.8

Q: Quick estimates; GCF: Gross Capital Formation; GFCF; Source: CSO, National Accounts Statistics, Various Issues.

Growth of Agricultural Sector


4.1.5 The agricultural sector has registered an average annual growth rate of about 3.9 percent during the Eighth Plan period. The foodgrains production, which was 168.4 million tonnes in the base year (1991-92) of the Eighth Plan increased to a record level of 199.3 million tonnes in the terminal year(1996-97). During the first three years of the Eighth Plan, the foodgrains production kept on rising but unfavourable monsoon in 1995-96 brought down the production by about 11 million tonnes to the level of 180.4 million tonnes. Total foodgrains target set for Eighth Plan at 210 million tonnes was not achieved. The average annual growth rate of foodgrains production during the period 1991-92 to 1996-97 was around 3.43% . The rice output fluctuated quite a bit during the Eighth Plan. The production declined during 1992-93 and 1995-96 over the preceding years. In 1996-97, the production of rice stood at 81.3 million tonnes, about 9% less than the targeted 88 million tonnes. The Eighth Plan target of 66 million tonnes for wheat was exceeded in the terminal year of the Eighth Plan. The Eighth Plan target for coarse cereal production was 39 million tonnes. In 1992-93 the production achieved was 36.6 million tonnes which was the highest achieved so far. This level could not be reached subsequently. The production of pulses in 1991-92 was 12.0 million tonnes and in 1996-97 it was 14.5 million tonnes In between these years, excepting 1994-95 when it was 14 million tonnes, the production ranged between 12 million tonnes and 13.3 million tonnes only. The country could not make any visible breakthrough in raising the production of pulses during the Eighth Plan.


4.1.6 There has been a significant increase in the output of oilseeds during the Eighth Plan. It was 18.6 million tonnes in 1991-92, in the base year of the Eighth Plan. It kept on increasing all through the years of the Eighth Plan except for a small decline from 21.5 million tonnes in 1993-94 to 21.3 million tonnes in 1994-95. Its production in the terminal year of the Eighth Plan was 25 million tonnes, an all time record. Soyabean and sunflower have, of late, emerged as the oilseed crops having major growth potential.


4.1.7 The cotton production showed a significant increase during the Eighth Plan. The cotton output, which was 9.7 million bales in 1991-92, increased to a record level of 14.3 million bales in 1996-97. This was both due to increase in area and yields.


4.1.8 The production of sugarcane declined from 254 million tonnes in 1991-92 to 228 million tonnes in the first year of the Eighth Plan. The production reached a record level of 281.1 million tonnes in 1995-96. However, in 1996-97 the production declined to 277.3 million tonnes. The production target and achievement of various crops during the Eighth Plan period are given in table 4.1.3.

Table 4.1.3

         Eighth Plan Targets and Production Performance of Crop
        (In Million Tonnes/Million Bales of 170 Kg.each of Cotton)
Crop      	8th Plan 	1992-93  	1993-94  	1994-95 	1995-96 	1996-97
             	Targets   	Achiev.   	Achiev.    	Achiev.  	Achiev      Achiev.
Rice        	88.0  		72.86  		80.30   	81.81   	76.98  		81.31
Wheat       	66.0  		57.21  		59.84   	65.77   	62.10  		69.27
C. Cereals   	39.0  		36.59  		30.81   	29.88   	29.03  		34.28
Pulses      	17.0  		12.82  		13.31   	14.04   	12.31  		14.46
Foodgrains    210.0      179.48      184.26      191.50      180.42 	   199.32
Oilseeds    	23.0  		20.11  		21.50   	21.34   	22.10  		24.96
Sugarcane     275.0      228.03      229.66      275.54      281.10       277.25
Cotton      	14.0  		11.40  		10.74   	11.89   	12.86  		14.25
    Source: Planning Commission/Ministry of Agriculture.

Plantation Sector

4.1.9 The production of tea has increased from 748 million kg. in 1991-92 to 775 million kg. in 1996-97. The production growth of less than one percent has, however, not kept pace with the fast increasing demand. Production of coffee has risen from 1.69 lakh tonnes during 1992-93 to 2.05 lakh tonnes during 1996- 97. The production of natural rubber increased from 3.67 lakh tonnes during 1991-92 to 5.42 lakh tonnes during 1996-97. In the traditional areas, the scope for expansion of rubber is very limited and about 95% of the existing area require replantation. India produces a wide variety of spices like black pepper, cardamom, ginger, turmeric, chillies etc. and spices occupy an important place among the agro products exported. At present, the production of spices in the country is around 24.7 lakh tonnes from an area of 25 lakh ha. The development efforts put into various spices crops during the Eighth Plan period contributed significantly to the increase in their area and productivity by 5.0 % and 8.0 %, per annum, respectively. India is the third largest producer of tobacco in the world. Export of tobacco was as high as 1.05 lakh tonnes during 1993-94. However, it declined to 0.54 lakh tonnes during 1994-95 on account of the collapse of the USSR market. It showed some recovery during 1995-96 with export of 0.87 lakh tonnes.

Horticulture Crops

4.1.10 The growth in horticulture based activities in the last five years is due, in a large measure, to the thrust given during the Eighth Plan by the Government. The allocation in the Eighth Plan was raised to Rs.1,000 crore from the Seventh Plan allocation of Rs.24 crore. A large number of concessions, subsidies and incentives were given to the growers and exporters. Simultaneously, the liberalisation process introduced as a part of the New Economic Policy, eased the procedures for production, foreign collaborations and access to international markets. There has been a substantial increase both in the area and the production of horticulture crops during the Eighth Plan. The area under horticulture crops increased from 123 lakh ha. in 1991-92 to 150 lakh ha. in 1996-97 and the production rose from 961 lakh tonnes to 1410 lakh tonnes during the same period.

Agricultural Exports Performance

4.1.11 A number of policy changes were introduced during the Eighth Plan to make agricultural exports more viable. This contributed to the increase in the exports of agriculture and allied products from Rs. 8228 crore in 1991-92 to Rs.25040 crore in 1996-97. Agriculture in allied products accounted for 21% of the total exports by the end of Eighth Plan. Since 1990-91, except for 1994-95, the share of agriculture exports has been steadily increasing.

Agricultural Inputs

4.1.12 A number of significant changes have taken place in the seeds sector during Eighth Plan on account of economic liberalisation and changes in the seed policy. The distribution of certified/quality seed increased from 60.3 lakh quintals in 1992-93 to the estimated level of 70 lakh quintals in 1996-97. In the case of oilseeds, against the Eighth Plan target of 7.55 lakh quintals, the achievement in 1995-96 was already 12.48 lakh quintals. This has been mainly due to the excess achievement of 7.50 lakh quintals in groundnut against the target of 3.24 lakh quintals. The achievement for groundnut includes quality seed/other seeds.


4.1.13 The consumption of fertilisers (NPK) has been stagnant around 12 million tonnes between 1990-91 and 1993-94. Subsequently, it increased to reach the level of 14.3 million tonnes in 1996-97. There were changes in the policy on fertilisers in the 1990s. Phosphatic and potassic fertilisers were decontrolled in August 1992. Only urea (nitrogenous fertiliser) continued to be under the price control system and involves a heavy subsidy for keeping the farm gate prices low. Consequent to decontrol in 1992, prices of phosphatic and potassic fertilisers rose sharply. The gap between the controlled price of urea and the decontrolled prices of phosphatic and potassic fertilisers increased leading to an imbalance in their use. Against the optimum N, P and K ratio of 4:2:1 and an actual ratio of 5.9 : 2.4 : 1 just before the decontrol, the ratio during the end of the Eighth Plan worked out to 10 : 2.9 : 1. It may be, however, noted that this ratio differs from area to area.


4.1.14 Eighth Plan envisaged creation of additional irrigation potential of 15.8 million ha and utilisation of 13.6 million ha from major, medium and minor irrigation schemes . As against these, the additional potential created was 8.3 million ha and the incremental utilisation was only 7.9 million ha. By the end of Eighth Plan, the total potential created through major, medium and minor irrigation stood at 89.3 million ha and the cumulative utilisation at 80.7 million ha. Total utilisation as a percentage of total potential was 90.4.

Agricultural Credit

4.1.15 Efforts to strengthen agricultural credit agencies have been given top priority in the Eighth Plan. Agricultural Credit is disbursed through a multi-agency network consisting of Cooperatives, Commercial Banks and Regional Rural Banks(RRBs). Agricultural loans provided by various agencies rose from Rs. 6992 crore in 1991-92 to Rs.28653 crore in 1996-97. While the short term agriculture credit from cooperative banks, RRBs and Commercial Banks increased from Rs. 6611 crore to Rs.19678 crore, the investment credit (medium and long term) increased from Rs. 4587 crore to Rs.10962 crore during the same period. As against the target of 40 % for priority sector lending by the banks, the sub target for agriculture has been fixed at 18 %. However, the achievement during the Eighth Plan was only 13-14 %.

Watershed Management and Soil and Water Conservation

4.1.16 As about 63 per cent of the cultivated land falls under the rainfed areas, watershed management is an important factor for improving agricultural production. A holistic approach to bring about the development of integrated farming systems on watershed basis is the main objective of the National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA) and other externally-aided watershed development projects. During the Eighth Plan, an area of 28 lakh hectare was targeted to be covered with an allocation of Rs.1,100 crore. The allocations to North Eastern States and the drought prone areas of Orissa State were increased during 1996-97. Organising self-help groups of beneficiaries in the micro-watersheds to institutionalise people's participation in the projects were stressed. To make soil treatment cost-effective, the guidelines emphasised on the vegetative conservation measures with active involvement of the beneficiaries and the non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The All India Soil and Land Use Survey has so far covered 1155.74 lakh ha. under priority delineation survey and 85.65 lakh ha. under detailed soil survey. A new scheme entitled "Application of Remote Sensing Technology for Soil Survey and Land Use Planning" has been launched during the Eighth Plan. The on-going Seventh Plan Centrally Sponsored Schemes of Soil Conservation in the catchments of River Valley Projects (RVP) and Integrated Watershed Management in the catchments of Flood Prone Rivers (FPR) were continued during the Eighth Plan.

Animal Husbandry and Dairying

4.1.17 There has been a considerable improvement in the production of major livestock products, i.e., milk, egg and wool during the Eighth Plan Period. The milk production witnessed a significant growth of 4.5 % per annum to reach the level of 68.6 million tonnes during 1996-97. This has increased the per capita availability of milk from around 180 gm. per day in 1991-92 to 201 gm per day in 1996-97. The step-up in the production of milk has been attributed to the intensified activities particularly, in improvement of genetic-stock through cross-breeding, effective control of diseases and Operation Flood Programmes which strengthened the cooperative institutions and infrastructure facilities. The poultry sub- sector has also made significant progress due to research and development activities. The egg production which was at the level of 22 billion nos. during 1991-92 increased to 28.2 billion nos. during 1996-97. The per-capita availability of eggs increased from 25 to 30 per annum, for the same period. The wool production has increased from 416 lakh kg. in 1991-92 to 443 lakh kg. at the end of the Eighth Five Year Plan. Though the production of major livestock products during the Eighth Plan showed an increasing trend but their targets have not been realised.


4.1.18 The country has a vast and varied fishery resources both marine and inland. The total fish production potential in the country has been estimated at 84 lakh tonnes. The total fish production has increased from 41.57 lakh tonnes in 1991-92 to 53.50 lakh tonnes in 1996-97 registering an annual average growth rate of about 5 % during the Eighth Plan. The fish seed production has also increased from 12,203 million fry to 15,700 million fry for the same period. There has been a significant increase in the export of marine products both in quantity and value terms. This has increased from 1.39 lakh tonnes (valued at Rs.893 crore) in 1991-92 to 3.78 lakh tonnes (Rs.4121 crore) in 1996-97.

Agricultural Research and Education

4.1.19 The technological advances made during the Eighth Plan have helped to improve production of various crops. The accelerated pace of varietal improvement activities lead to development of over 550 high yielding varieties of different crops. A number of them had in-built resistance to various biotic and abiotic stresses, providing the much needed insulation to crop production. One of the major achievements under foodgrain crops is the release of hybrid varieties of rice for commercial cultivation in different States. In the case of oilseeds, hybrids have been developed, especially in castor seed and sunflower which helped in increasing the productivity of these oilseeds. In the case of maize, three superior hybrids having cold tolerance have been identified and for cotton, new hybrids have been released for cultivation in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. In plant protection, the All India Coordinated Research Project on Biological Control laid more emphasis on biological control of insect- pests. The Integrated Pests Management (IPM) approaches have been worked out for the major nematode pests in a number of crops. During the Eighth Plan period, a number of improved breeds of cattle and poultry such as Frieswal and CARI-Gold were also evolved. Research activities in the fisheries sector were also intensified. There has also been a progress in fisheries research.

Ninth Plan Focus and Strategy


  • Doubling food production.
  • Increase in employment and incomes.
  • Supplementary /sustained employment and creation of rural infrastructure through poverty alleviation schemes.
  • Distribution of foodgrains to the people below poverty line.

4.1.20 The agricultural development strategy for the Ninth Five Year Plan is essentially based on the policy on food security announced by the Government to double the food production and make India hunger free in ten years. Food production will include not only foodgrains i.e. rice, wheat, coarse cereals and pulses but also all major food items including oils, sugar, fruits and vegetables, milk, egg and meat and fish. The Ninth Plan accordingly, envisages operational strategies and specific programmes/activities to substantially increase the supply of various food items so that the entire domestic demand for these items is comfortably met and some surplus for exports also become available. The development strategy to be pursued in the medium term has been consciously interwoven with the country’s food security concerns.

4.1.21 Food security is to be interpreted to mean adequate availability of basic food items particularly, foodgrains in the country as a whole and also availability of adequate purchasing power to meet the food requirements at the household level. Accelerated agricultural development based on increase in productivity and income would meet both these elements of food security. Hence, a strategy for food security would encompass the essential components of availability, with a focus on those living below the poverty line as well as the deficit and inaccessible regions of the country.

4.1.22 A three pronged strategy will be followed to meet the basic food requirements of all:

  1. Increase in overall employment and incomes by raising farm productivity and through the growth of other economic activities in the rural areas.
  2. Provision of gainful supplementary employment through poverty alleviation schemes such as JRY, EAS. These would generate additional employment in the short run but would also help in the creation of durable rural infrastructure for more sustained employment over time.
  3. Distribution of foodgrains through public distribution system at concessional prices to those living below the poverty line.

4.1.23 In order to provide access to the poor to food at prices they can afford, a Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) has been introduced. Under this, 10 kg of cereals are provided per capita per month to those living below the poverty line, at half the central issue price. This too would create additional demand for cereals.

4.1.24 Poverty eradication and generation of productive employment in the growth process are at the top of the Government’s agenda. It is recognised that greater productive employment in the growth process will take time to materialise. Lest, a large proportion of the rural poor are left out of growth process, there is need for continued state intervention for poverty alleviation. The resources made available under poverty alleviation programmes and funds provided for old age pension, maternity benefit and family benefit targeted to the poor under the National Social Assistance Programme would provide additional incomes to the poor for purchase of essential food items.

4.1.25 The target of new strategy is to double the food production in the next decade to meet the consumption requirement of the growing population and to make India hunger free. However, it is neither possible nor required to double the foodgrains output of each item or even the group of items in the food basket. In fact, an exercise done to estimate the food requirement suggests that production of 300 million tonnes of foodgrains with an increase in horticulture, livestock and fishery production should be more than adequate to meet the food and nutritional requirement and also leave an exportable surplus of about 5 million tonnes of foodgrains.

4.1.26 In view of the preponderance of the poor in the rural areas, household level of food security can be achieved only through a sustained and rapid increase in productivity growth in the agriculture sector in terms of value added per worker. The pattern of value addition in agriculture is such that this magnitude of income growth of the poor is unlikely to occur from the expanded output of foodgrains only. Rapid diversification towards high value products, in both crop and non-crop sectors, is essential both to meet nutritional needs and to generate adequate incomes for the rural poor.

4.1.27 A production target over 300 million tonnes for the estimated population of over a billion may lead to diversion of area from other crops like oil seeds, pulses, fruits and vegetables towards cereals. The diversion may not be desirable as demand for these items far exceeds, the supply and higher imports may mean higher prices. Further, excess production of cereals may depress prices and lead to income losses to farmers, large scale procurement and storage of surplus production may also not be feasible. Therefore, the target for foodgrains production has been fixed at 300 million tonnes (Rice 130 million tonnes; Wheat 109 million tonnes; Coarse cereals including Maize 41 million tonnes; pulses 20 million tonnes) by 2007-08. Foodgrains production is expected to increase at an annual rate of 4.5 % per annum during the ten year period. While the animal husbandry and dairy development is targeted to achieve a growth rate of 6.2 % that of fisheries sector is expected to register a growth rate of 5.7 % per annum. With these targeted growth rates, the production of milk and fish is expected to reach the levels of 130 million tonnes and 9.6 million tonnes, respectively by 2007-08.

Regionally differentiated strategy


  • High Productivity Zone
  • Low Productivity–High Potential Zone.
  • Low Productivity Zone.
  • Ecologically Fragile Regions.

4.1.28 In order to achieve the goals of doubling the food output and alleviation of hunger, a regionally differentiated strategy based on agro-climatic regional planning which takes into account agronomic, climatic and environmental conditions will be adopted to realise the full potential of growth in every region. The agriculture development strategy will be differentiated by broad regional characteristic of agro-economic situation. The thrust will be on ecologically sustainable use of the

basic resources such as land, water and vegetation in such a way that it serves the objectives of accelerated growth, employment and alleviation of hunger.

High Productivity Zone (North-West and Coastal region)

4.1.29 The high productivity zone is characterised by either high irrigation-low rainfall or low irrigation-high rainfall situation, spread over 103 districts of the North-West and coastal areas including Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Here, the thrust will be on diversification of agriculture towards high value crops through creation of relevant infrastructure and establishment of strong linkages with agro-processing industry and exports.

4.1.30 In this Zone basic infrastructure for accelerated food production is already well developed. Some of the districts in this region have witnessed significant productivity growth and realised 8 to 10 tonnes of paddy per ha. In some of the districts where the growth of productivity has reached a plateau, the requirement is for new seed varieties and better water management including large scale use of sprinklers to avoid water logging and salinity problems. The latest research of ICAR and the SAUs on production technology including crop management will be implemented in the high productivity districts. The intensity of agricultural input will have to be increased particularly of chemical fertilizers along with green manure and bio-fertilizers. Even in this zone, there are considerable variations in productivity per ha. and input use for crop production with potential for increasing output.

4.1.31 During the next decade, efforts will be made to step up fertilizer application in all the districts where it is low to reach the level of 200 kg/ha in a phased manner. The increased utilisation of chemical fertilizers will be accompanied by complementary use of farm yard manure, compost, green manure and bio-fertilizers. A similar approach will be followed for augmenting irrigation facilities. All the districts in the zone will have assured irrigation covering over 90% of the gross cropped area (GCA). Fertilizer use is positively co-related with irrigation.

Low Productivity- High Potential Zone

4.1.32 In the Low Productivity - High Potential Zone which cover about 181 districts in the country, the productivity is low despite abundant water availability and good soil. This zone would include Eastern Madhya Pradesh, Central and Eastern Uttar Pradesh, the Bihar Plains, Assam, West Bengal and some parts of other States. The strategy for this region will be to achieve the productivity levels of high productivity states of Punjab and Haryana.

4.1.33 The production strategy for this region would focus on flood control, drainage management, improved irrigation facilities particularly, minor irrigation and a better input delivery system supported by extension. The fertilizer application will have to be substantially stepped up and the gross irrigated area in this region to be increased to cover at least 50% of the GCA of the districts.

4.1.34 The average fertilizer consumption in the vast majority of the districts in this zone is very low and in over 90 % of the districts the per hectare consumption is less than 100 kg. Here, the urgent need is to step up fertilizer consumption in the first category districts to the level of the second category and in the subsequent phases these districts should catch up with those of the high productivity zone. Along with chemical fertilisers, the use of organic manures and bio-fertilisers will also be promoted for soil health.

4.1.35 Minor irrigation holds the key for this region and there is considerable ground water potential. About one million tubewells will be sunk in this zone which would irrigate about 4.0 million ha. Large scale adoption of drip irrigation and sprinkler irrigation will be taken up in this zone.

Low Productivity Zone(Central Plateau Region)

4.1.36 In the Central Plateau region covering 79 districts, the productivity is low because of water scarcity. Here, the emphasis will be on development of efficient water harvesting and conservation methods and technologies, suitable irrigation packages on watershed approach and appropriate farming system which economise on water-use.

4.1.37 The basic aim of various land and water development programmes in this region will be to enable the farmers to obtain at least one good crop in an agricultural year. In the case of paddy the target should be to obtain a yield of about 3-4 tonnes/ha. and for wheat about 2.5 to 3.0 tonnes/ha. It is possible to obtain 3.0 tonnes/ha of maize with appropriate varieties as available in Karnataka.

4.1.38 Water harvesting structures and conservation works are of prime importance in watershed development. The cost effective indigenous method of water harvesting through check dams etc. will be supplemented by the use of drip and sprinkler irrigation. Apart from deep tubewells, shallow tubewells, open dug-wells and tanks/ponds which help in percolation and recharge of ground water will be emphasised. Regular desilting and redigging of such tanks under rural employment programmes should be taken up. About 10 million ha. will be brought under scientific treatment for soil and water conservation during the Ninth Plan period.

4.1.39 Fertilizer consumption is very low in this region because of water scarcity. For higher intake of chemical fertilizers, the urgent need is to tap ground water potential wherever available for crop production. Million wells Scheme(MWS) can make useful contribution.

Ecologically Fragile Regions including Himalayan and Desert Areas

4.1.40 Development strategy for the fragile Zone has been spun around allied sectors such as animal husbandry, fisheries, horticulture and plantation.

4.1.41 On the basis of existing irrigation facilities and the level of fertilizer consumption in various agro-economic zones, about 212 districts have been identified for priority action for intensifying irrigation facilities and yield raising inputs including chemical fertilisers for the accelerated growth of food output It is also planned that diversification and modernisation of various sub-sectors of the agricultural sector would gain momentum in the Ninth Plan and the dynamics of agricultural growth would emanate from growth in non-foodgrain sectors, e.g. cotton, oilseeds, sugarcane, fruits and vegetables, spices, plantation crops etc. along with the development of fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying.

Policy Thrust and Key Elements of Growth Strategy


  • Conservation of land, water and biological resources.
  • Rural infrastructure development
  • Development of Rainfed agriculture.
  • Development of minor irrigation.
  • Timely and adequate availability of inputs.
  • Increasing flow of credit
  • Enhancing public sector investment
  • Enhanced support for research.
  • Effective transfer of technology
  • Support for marketing infrastructure
  • Export promotion.

4.1.42 Within the broad frame work of Plan for doubling food production and making India hunger free the Ninth Plan will aim at achieving the specific objectives of sustainability of employment generation, food and nutrition security, equity and poverty alleviation. Efforts will be made to achieve a growth rate of 4.5 % per annum in agricultural output in order to make a significant impact on overall growth and poverty alleviation. The emphasis will be on raising the capabilities of small peasants and promoting sustainable agricultural systems, while at the same time conserving and maximising the value from scarce resources, water and land. Infrastructure development will be given the highest importance. Emphasis will also be on minor irrigation by harnessing ground water resources. Timely and adequate availability of inputs will receive special attention. The regional programmes will be formulated in such a manner as to ensure provision of inputs to the farmer, particularly in the remote, hilly, backward and tribal areas. Agricultural credit is a crucial input and it will receive special attention. The programmes relating to land reforms would be strengthened to raise agricultural growth and help the poor. Efforts will be made to increase public investment during the Plan period. In every district, the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) will be used to promote projects which encourage organisations of small farmers, artisans and landless labourers for skill upgradation,processing, transport infrastructure, quality improvement etc. Support to agricultural research will be enhanced and emphasis will be placed on biotechnology, micro-biology, genetic improvement of crops including hybrid technology, genetic upgradation of animal resources, improvement of fish genetic stock and post-harvest technology, etc. Efforts will be made to accelerate the growth rates of allied sectors such as horticulture, including fruits and vegetables, fisheries, livestock and dairy. Agricultural exports will receive special attention as these have a lot of potential for increasing farm incomes and employment, besides earning foreign exchange. Co-operatives will be strengthened. Greater participation of women in agriculture than at present will be encouraged. Linkages with markets will be strengthened and agro-processing and agro-industries will be encouraged.

4.1.43 The Ninth Plan target is to achieve a growth rate of about 4.5 % per annum in agricultural output and production of 234 million tonnes of foodgrains by 2001-02. The main elements of the strategies to achieve these targets and objectives are discussed below:

New Agriculture Policy

4.1.44 The Government is finalising a National Agricultural Policy which is set to make some major changes in farm practices. The policy will focus on the optimal use of land, water and genetic resources in a sustainable manner. It will include leasing of land, consolidation of land, the use of 80 million ha. of marginal and wastelands and community lands for agro-forestry and improvement of rural marketing infrastructure. The plan will be to create both cold storage and processing facilities close to the production centres in rural areas.

Focus on Social Objectives


  • Raising Land Productivity in Eastern India.
  • Recognition of Women’s Rights in Land.
  • Protection of Tribals’ Rights in Land

4.1.45 The strategies for agricultural development will focus on the social objectives of employment generation, food and nutrition security, gender equality, poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability. Towards these objectives, a special thrust will be given to raising land productivity in Eastern India and the arid-zones of peninsular India where the poor are largely concentrated. These regions require investment in minor irrigation, watershed development and general infrastructure as well as support to small and marginal farmers by way of timely credit, availability of inputs and seeds and market linkages. An attempt will be made to bring about effective coordination between agricultural programmes and rural programmes. Women's rights in land will be recognised and women will be given preference in group activities for land conservation and improvement. The need for land reforms and improvement of land records will again be brought into focus. Every effort will be made to protect the tribals' rights in land.

4.1.46 Technologies for integrated and appropriate agricultural systems will be developed and disseminated so as to emphasise that agriculture is not only a land and water using activity but also helps to conserve and regenerate land and water resources. The cropping pattern has to be appropriate to the nature of land, water and environmental resources.

Agricultural Employment

4.1.47 The strategy of agricultural development should be such that it should have a significant impact on the reduction of rural poverty by the end of the Ninth Plan from the level of 37 % in 1993-94. The focus on the development of small and marginal farmers will have a direct impact on poverty. With its forward and backward linkages with other sectors, the accelerated agricultural growth targeted for the Ninth Plan should help reduce rural poverty considerably.

4.1.48 The elasticity of employment with respect to output in agriculture has declined over time, if the country as a whole is taken. It is generally observed that during the phase when agriculture is transforming from low productivity to high productivity operation, labour absorption is very high, though at a highly developed stage additional labour absorption stops and elasticity gets reduced to almost zero. The Ninth Plan focuses on raising productivity in the low productivity regions of Eastern and peninsular India. In this process, there will be considerable generation of additional employment. The emphasis will be on high employment elasticity activities like animal husbandry, fisheries, horticulture, fish canning and preservation, tobacco products, cotton ginning etc. Increase in cropping intensity would also lead to an increase in the employment prospects in agriculture. The strategy on employment would also encourage rural non-agricultural employment so that the burden on agriculture would be reduced over time.

Agricultural Research and Technology

4.1.49 For agricultural research and education, the country has a strong national agricultural research system. Today there is a network of 49 research institutes, 30 national research centres, 10 Project Directorates, 28 State Agricultural Universities, one Central Agricultural University and a large number of All India Coordinated Projects involving more than 24,000 agricultural scientists and teachers. The future economic and social development is in considerable measure dependent upon the technological improvements in agriculture. A massive application of science and technology would enable Indian agriculture to face the serious challenges of food security and ensure a place for value added Indian agricultural products in the global markets. There are immense opportunities offered by technological revolutions in the field of molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, Geographical Information System, systems analysis, revolution in informatics, remote sensing etc. The objective is to tap the potential of science and technology to improve the living conditions of the poor. It is increasingly difficult to obtain any sizeable incremental production from the conventional Green Revolution areas. For the second Green Revolution, it is necessary to make the grey areas green. Hence, a major support for the rainfed areas, especially in Eastern and arid peninsular India would be necessary. Public sector research and technology missions (as for instance the mission on oilseeds) on various crops would play a crucial role in improving the crop production. How to reduce the yield gap between the lab and the field, particularly in the case of dryland crops is an important challenge for agricultural research and technologies.

Supportive Environment

4.1.50 The country has 106.6 million agricultural land holdings. The holdings of small and marginal farmers together constitute around 80 % of the total holdings and their average size is less than one hectare. A farmer takes his or her own decisions about cropping pattern and other production activities. The Government's role is to help build a supportive environment to increase production and productivity in the form of market intervention, agricultural research, public investment in irrigation and infrastructure, credit and marketing for agricultural export besides creating and strengthening institutions like co-operatives which support agricultural activities.

Infrastructure Development

4.1.51 Infrastructure development in the Eighth Plan has fallen short of the targets. This is partly due to the reliance that was placed on private sector investment, which did not materialise in adequate measure. Infrastructure includes irrigation, electricity, agricultural research, roads and communication, markets and new technology. The public sector investment in irrigation has been stagnant or declining since the mid-1980s. Efforts will be made to increase public investment in agriculture. The private investment would also increase along with public investment since there is complementarity between the two. Developing roads and agricultural markets in the rural areas is important for the farmers to sell their products. This is also important for food security because public and private trade cannot operate efficiently without good infrastructure. Accessibility of remote areas is also dependent on transport linkages.

Agricultural Investment

4.1.52 Higher investment in agriculture and rural infrastructure is a necessary condition for increasing agricultural growth. Government has a role in not only raising public investment but also inducing private investment. Efforts will be made during the Ninth Plan to increase public investment and encourage private investment in agriculture.

4.1.53 The public sector plays a crucial role in providing the investment for infrastructure like irrigation, electricity, agricultural research, roads and communications. Simultaneously, there is a need for providing incentives for the private sector to invest in a number of agricultural activities. Investment in minor irrigation by the farmers has already picked up in the eastern region during the Nineties. The scope exists for increasing private participation in seed industry, particularly in the non-cereal crops. There is a need to review some of the restrictions on storage, marketing and movement particularly at the State level so that the farmers can avail of better opportunities. This is also important for attracting investment in many activities.

4.1.54 Irrigation development and water management are going to be most crucial for increasing agricultural production and productivity. For increasing the efficiency of irrigation projects, there is a need for institutional reforms. As suggested by the Committee on Pricing of Irrigation Water, the effective involvement of farmers in management is essential for improving the operational efficiency and financial viability of public irrigation systems. During the Ninth Plan, the Government would aim at encouraging greater community participation in irrigation management for bringing about greater awareness of the need for judicious utilisation of water. Community participation in watershed development and regeneration of land and water resources will have to be promoted.

Credit Availability

4.1.55 Credit is an important input for increasing growth in agriculture. For achieving a growth rate of 4.5 %, the rate of growth in agricultural credit should be higher than that during the previous Plan periods. A strong, viable and professional system of credit disbursal is essential for meeting the emerging credit demand on time and adequately. Credit support needs to be increased for traditional sectors like minor irrigation, farm mechanisation, rainfed farming, wasteland/forestry, dairy and other animal husbandry activities and also for crop production. In addition, the emerging scenario provides vast scope for diversification of activities under horticulture, mushroom, floriculture, fishery, animal husbandry and sericulture as well as agro-processing, storage and the use of advanced technologies like tissue culture, drip irrigation, green-house etc. All these activities need more credit during the Ninth Plan. Efforts will be made to change the legal and administrative system in order to revitalise the co-operative credit structure and enable the system to respond adequately and effectively to the emerging needs of the users and the markets.

Land Reforms

4.1.56 A proper implementation of land laws and policies is essential in order to restructure the agrarian economy in a way conducive to higher rates of agriculture growth with greater equity in the distribution of gains from it. All possible efforts would be made to detect and redistribute the surplus land and to enforce the ceiling laws with firmness.

4.1.57 Tenancy reforms would be taken up in States characterised by semi-feudal modes of production. Absentee landlordism must be eliminated by plugging the legal loopholes, tightening the implementation machinery and providing for speedy adjudication of disputes in revenue courts. Rights of tenants and sharecroppers need to be recorded and security of tenure provided to them. This alone would provide incentive for increasing investment in agriculture, as experience in certain parts of the country has shown. Preference should be given to poor, especially women with respect to wastelands and common property resources. Consolidation of land holding should be expedited but only with the active involvement of the village people and the Panchayat Raj Institutions in order to allay fears of small and marginal farmers whose lands may be under consolidation operations. Updation of land record is a necessary pre-requisite of any effective land reform policy. The rural poor, the elected bodies and voluntary organisation should participate in the process of ensuring agrarian reforms.


4.1.58 There is a bright future for India in agro and food processing sector and for this purpose appropriate institutional arrangements will have to be made. Large scale processing would have to be selectively encouraged since such activities on small scale are often not viable. As the world's largest producer of milk, and second laragest producer of fruits and vegetables, India should focus on promoting processed agricultural products for export purposes. For increasing agricultural trade, encouragement would be given to infrastructural developments in terms of bulk storage and handling facilities at rail-heads and sea-ports. For perishable commodities, fast track facilities and special cargo terminals at major air and sea-ports are essential.

Foodgrains Self-Sufficiency at National Level

4.1.59 Foodgrain self-sufficiency refers only to the country as a whole and there is no need for self sufficiency at the State or regional levels. The States would be encouraged to produce crops according to their comparative advantage. Each region or State should use land to its best advantage.

Towards a National Market

4.1.60 The domestic markets should be free and there should be a free movement of commodities. We must proceed towards a full national market by removing unnecessary restrictions. The free movement in the domestic markets would lead to movements of commodities from surplus regions to deficit regions.

Terms of Trade

4.1.61 In recent years terms of trade for farm sector has shown some improvement as a result of various measures taken by the Government like announcing minimum support prices for the major agriculture commodities. As non-price factors are more important for raising the growth, the strategy should be to reduce the cost of production in order to make the agriculture more remunerative.

Effective Price support to farmers

4.1.62 Wide fluctuations in farm prices cause undue fluctuations in income, more than the changes in the output. This depresses the prices received by the farmers and discourage his investments in yield raising infrastructure. The agricultural price policy followed by the Government, over the years, has contributed significantly to the creation of a remunerative and relatively stable price environment, which has induced the farmers to adopt new technology and increase production. It has also helped in the diversification of cropping pattern. While it is necessary to substantially improve input delivery system and target low intensity- high potential areas, it is also essential that farmers are assured of remunerative prices that offer a fair incentive for adoption of improved technology and scientific practices. It is absolutely essential that Minimum Support Prices (MSP)for major cereals should be announced well before the sowing season so that farmers are quite clear about the price expectations and the price policy performs its resource allocation function effectively.

4.1.63 The price support mechanism has also not been very effective in the Eastern States and paddy prices have ruled below the MSP level announced by the Government, on many occasions. All efforts to improve the production of rice in the eastern states will be meaningless if the farmers are not assured of MSP. A mechanism should be devised to monitor farm gate prices of various agricultural produce in all major producing Centres.

Agriculture Marketing

4.1.64 The agricultural marketing infrastructure has not kept pace with the accelerated growth of production in the country. This has resulted in significant post harvest losses of agricultural produce. The Central Government has provided assistance for the creation of infrastructural facilities for marketing and for the setting up of rural godowns. During the Ninth Plan, the Panchayats will also be encouraged to involve themselves actively in creating marketing infrastructure at the rural level. Marketing extension, being a key factor in bringing desirable changes in attitude, skills and behaviour of the farmers, traders and consumers, the agricultural marketing extension will be strengthened. Direct marketing will be promoted in the interests of both the producers and the consumers.

4.1.65 The functioning of the agricultural markets particularly for fruits and vegetables will be improved to ensure fair and remunerative prices to the growers. The wholesale markets will be modernised with all basic infrastructural facilities for cleaning, grading, packaging, storage and also with electronic auction platforms. There is a need for establishment of cold chains, providing pre-cooling facilities to farmers, cold chains in the terminal markets and improving the retail marketing arrangements in the urban areas. Schemes will be formulated for promotion of available low cost technology in the form of fruit vending machines, expellers, grinders, packers, reefer vans, etc. to the educated rural and urban youth with appropriate package of assistance..

Rationalisation of Input Prices

4.1.66 There is a school of thought which emphasizes that the continuance of agriculture subsidies need a re-look as these are considered to be fiscally unsustainable and also encourage sub-optimal utilisation of resources leading to undesirable consequences like land degradation, water-logging, depletion of groundwater resources, etc. It is also argued that the subsidies crowd out the public investment in agriculture and, therefore, a time-bound strategy for rationalizing the agriculture input pricing structure by a proper and transparent method is required. However, it should be recalled that agriculture subsidies have played a very crucial role in improving the production and productivity and have contributed significantly to the country’s food security. All out efforts will be made to improve agricultural productivity and raise the farmers income with special emphasis on ensuring the supply of agriculture inputs such as seeds, fertilisers, irrigation, power, etc. in time and in adequate quantities. Efforts will also be made to targetting and selective focussing. Agricultural subsidies, where they are focussed on raising productivity, stabilising production and supporting the small and marginal farmers will have to be continued for some time.

Environment and Sustainable Agriculture

4.1.67 It is a known fact that there is little scope for further expansion of the net sown area and that land scarcity will become an acute feature of the rural economy. Water is a precious national asset and there are several concerns regarding water resources in the country. Therefore, a judicious use of land and water resources will have to be the central concern during the Ninth Plan period and beyond for sustainability of agricultural growth. There has been a growing concern in recent years about the deteriorating conditions of soil health and water resources due to improper management and pollution. The deterioration in land and water resources has been in the form of land degradation, water logging and decline in water table. There is a greater need to have an integrated approach in the management of agricultural nutrients, chemicals and in taking effective measures to deal with the overall pollution problems.

4.1.68 There are several possible technologies and alternatives to reduce the use of chemicals in agriculture. These alternatives are not perfect substitutes to chemicals but adoption of these can substantially reduce the adverse impact on environment. Proper land and water management policies would reduce environmental degradation. Community and village institutions will be encouraged to participate in protecting natural resources from degradation. Programmes for regeneration of land and water resources will be strengthened.

.Crop Production Strategies


4.1.69 Under the accelerated growth scenario for the Ninth Plan, with GDP growing by about 7 %, population growing by about 1.7 % and per capita income by about 5 %, the demand for foodgrains is expected to grow by 3.0 % per annum. Under this scenario, the estimated food requirements by the end of the Ninth Plan would be around 227 m.t. Against this the target for foodgrains production is fixed at 234 million tonnes for the terminal year of the Ninth Plan. To achieve this target, it is assumed that the area under foodgrains would be 126 million ha. The targets show that India has to increase foodgrains production at least by 35 million tonnes during the Ninth Plan from the level of around 199 million tonnes in 1996-97. The large part of the incremental production will have to come from the rainfed areas.

4.1.70 To supplement the efforts of the State Governments in increasing crop production, various crop production oriented schemes have been implemented by the Central Government. Some special schemes for rice, wheat and maize were introduced during the Eighties. The Government has modified the cereals development schemes during the Eighth Plan by considering the overall development of prevailing cropping systems in different years. The modified schemes are Integrated Cereal Development Programmes (ICDP) for rice, coarse cereals and wheat-based cropping systems areas.

4.1.71 The ICDP-Rice was being implemented in the States largely following rice-based cropping system. The States covered under the scheme are: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Kerala, Eastern Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Eastern UP, West Bengal and Union Territory of Pondicherry. 1200 blocks were identified in these States where the productivity of rice/cereals was less than the State/national average for implementation of the scheme.

4.1.72 The ICDP-Wheat was implemented in the States mainly following wheat-based cropping system. The States covered under the scheme are: Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Northern Rajasthan and Western Uttar Pradesh. 425 blocks were identified in these States where the productivity of wheat/cereals was less than the State/national average for implementation of the scheme. During the Ninth Plan, the emphasis will be on the rainfed wheat areas particularly in the central region. Over time, wheat production has been catching up with rice production.

4.1.73 The ICDP-Coarse Cereals was implemented during the Eighth Plan in the States largely following coarse cereals-based cropping system. Under the scheme, six States viz., Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Sikkim have been covered. The scheme was being implemented in 830 identified blocks where the productivity of coarse cereals was less than the State/national average.

4.1.74 Maize is one of the important cereals grown in the country. Besides, being a food crop, maize is also important from fodder, feed and industries points of view. The area under maize is about 6 million hectares with a production level of nearly 10.6 m.t. The average yield is only 1.7 tonnes per hectare which is very low compared to the world standard 4.1 tonnes per hectare. The area under high-yielding variety of maize is about 50 %. However, the area under hybrid seed coverage is less than 10 %. . The quality of Indian maize compares favourably with the best in the world. Keeping in view the importance of raising the yield of maize from the present level of 1.7 tonnes per hectare to at least 3 tonnes per hectare and to increase maize production by at least 10 million tonnes, two steps have been taken. These are: (1) upgradation of the All India Coordinated Research Project on Maize to Directorate of Maize Research in the ICAR and introduction of an Accelerated Maize Development Programme under the Integrated Cereal Development Programme based on coarse cereals cropping system approach. The research component is already at place and the accelerated programme, in a mission mode approach, would be made functional during the Ninth Plan.

4.1.75 The production of pulses has remained stagnant between 10 and 12 m.t. during the last three decades . The productivity and production of pulses is low due to its cultivation on rainfed, marginal and sub-marginal lands, high susceptibility to pest diseases and climatic aberrations, lack of genetic breakthrough, application of very low level of inputs by the farmers and diversion of area to other remunerative crops as and when irrigation facilities become available. In order to harness the best of production, processing and management technologies to accelerate pulses production, the programme of National Pulses Development Project (NPDP) was brought under the purview of Technology Mission on Oilseeds in 1990. The NPDP was being implemented in 25 States and Union Territory of A and N Islands. Under this programme, emphasis is laid on increasing the area through multiple and inter-cropping and increasing the yield per unit of area. Assistance under this programme is provided for key inputs. The Integrated Cereals Development Programmes for rice, wheat and coarse cereals and NPDP project for pulses will be continued during the Ninth Plan.


4.1.76 There has been a steady increase in the production of oilseeds after the setting up of the Technology Mission in 1986. The aim of the Technology Mission has been to harness the best of production, processing and management technologies for achieving expeditiously self-reliance in oilseeds' production. Soyabean and sunflower have, of late, emerged as the oilseed crops having major growth potential. With a view to augmenting the availability of edible oils, the cultivation of oil palm under irrigated conditions was initiated by the Department of Bio-technology in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Subsequently, it was implemented as a Technology Mission in the name of Oil Palm Development Programme (OPDP) in 11 states. These programmes will be continued during the Ninth Plan.

Technology Mission on Cotton

4.1.77 The productivity level of cotton in India does not compare favourably with productivity levels attained in many of the major cotton growing countries of the world. The world average of cotton yield is well over 550 kg per hectare whereas in India, it is around 266 kg per hectare. There are a number of constraints from production to processing stages. Therefore, there is a need for evolving and applying technological improvements at several stages of cotton production and processing. The Technology Mission on Cotton proposed in the Ninth Plan will give a major thrust to raise production, productivity, as well as post harvest marketing and processing of the produce. Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Textiles are being associated for its implementation, with the Department of Agriculture as nodal agency.


4.1.78 The area under sugarcane is 4 million ha. and the average productivity is around 66 tonnes per ha. The production of sugarcane is expected to increase from 277 million tonnes in 1996-97 to 336 million tonnes by the end of the Ninth Plan at an average growth rate of 3.91 %. In water scarce area increase in area under sugarcane needs to be discouraged. In the State like Maharastra, sugarcane cultivation through sprinkler irrigation is taken up which is a welcome step.

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