How to improve agricultural productivity in India

How to improve agricultural productivity in India

In India, global attention has been devoted to water scarcity and its effect on Indian farmers. India has now reached a stage in development where it requires an “evergreen revolution”, which means it has to produce more in less land, with fewer amounts of water. This revolution will improve agricultural productivity and require agri-business and agri-processing as the co-drivers. Strategies such as crop diversification will also have to be planned. Irrigation needs to be combined with seed improvement.

Here are the strategies to be considered for improving agricultural productivity in India:

1. Enhancing the health of the soil
Universities focused on agriculture, research institutions, government agricultural departments, and farmers’ unions should aim to increase soil production potential, particularly in dry farming areas. Crop productivity, in truth, depends not only on the inputs given (like the quality of manure or fertilizer in the soil) but also on the irrigation facilities.

It is an important task to maintain soil productivity along with other factors such as selection of crop yields, cultivation practices, and control of insects and other pests to obtain good quality yields. Soil testing and usage of green manure help maintain soil productivity. Green manure with leguminous crops such as Jantar and cowpea, when decomposed, increases organic matter in the soil.

Apply potassium to soil only as per soil test reports. Spray micronutrients such as manganese, iron, and copper to the soil, and apply zinc to the soil to increase its strength. Apply farmyard manure to different crops using recommended dosages.

2. Management of irrigation
When it comes to irrigation, water should be viewed as a public resource and not private property. Improving water supply through rainwater harvesting and recharging of an aquifer should be done. Farmers should construct better tube wells, canals, and water distribution systems to secure crops. In addition, farmers should also prevent over-flooding of soil and destroying soil integrity by taking extensive measures against flooding.

Water literacy, or increased awareness about water usage for crops, should be encouraged amongst farmers. Water literacy will help them learn about regulations for the sustainable use of groundwater, and preventing water pollution during irrigation. In coastal areas, seawater farming through the cultivation of mangroves, Salicornia and other plants needs to be done.

3. Exploration and usage of new agricultural technology
Agricultural scientists and other parties studying innovation in agriculture and farming should push the discovery and usage of new crop varieties and farming technologies to increase net income per hectare, not just crop yield per hectare. Scientists should explore crop-livestock integrated production systems.

This system increases the diversity and environmental sustainability of both sectors and provides opportunities for increasing overall production and the economy of farming. Post-harvest technology should also be explored, including demonstrations to various farmers, in dry farming areas where millets, pulses, and cotton are grown.

Rice is the largest crop per yield in the country, and focusing on rice by exploring various technologies and establishing research parks for rice can help generate more income for farmers and improve India’s export of rice by exploring new varieties.

4. Varying agricultural strategy per region
India has enormous variations in agro-climatic and economic conditions across the country, so there cannot be a single agricultural growth strategy followed everywhere. It has to be well-thought-of based on a number of factors.

For example, in the North-Western region of India, there is a good possibility for high productivity. In this area, there is scope for diversification and growth of high-value crops such as bajra, millets, and wheat, along with rice. In this region, you also have to strengthen the connection between the agricultural industry and exports.

In the Eastern region of India, the production potential has to be achieved to bring the yield to high productivity states. In this region, the major push should be on flood control, management of drainage, and improvement of irrigation facilities. In the Indian peninsula, water harvesting and conversation methods and technologies need to be explored. Here, due to water scarcity, farmers need to economize on water usage and generate higher values from the land.

In ecologically fragile regions such as the Himalayas and desert areas, agricultural systems need to be built that do not damage the ecological balance in the region but also help use natural resources to their maximum and conserve and strengthen them.

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