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The article provides information on the agricultural sector before independence in India, the challenges after Independence, the onset of Green Revolution and the attainment of self sufficiency in the 1990’s.

Indian Agriculture

Before Independence
Mr. R.Strachey who headed the 1880 Famine Commission, suggested the setting up of a department of agriculture in every province. Thus a new secretariat was formed in the centre in 1881.Following which some prominent provinces like Bombay, Madras, UP, Bengal, Assam and Punjab paid greater attention to agriculture and other related fields. The agriculture sector was backward and lacked scientific approach. To improve the condition of the agricultural sector the centre appointed Mr. JA Voeleker in 1889 as agricultural chemist. Years of extensive research resulted in the setting up of Agricultural Research Institute at Pursa, Bihar (in 1903).

In spite of the best efforts by the government, the productivity remained low. So the government set up the Royal Commission on Agriculture in 1926.Based on their findings the Imperial Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) was formed and during the period agricultural flourished. But during the period from World War II to Independence agricultural suffered setbacks. The famine of 1943 resulted in the death of millions.

After Independence
The partition of the country in 1947 had a negative impact on Indian agriculture. But the formation of Planning Commission in 1950 and the ad vocation of economic planning through five year plans, gave greater importance to agricultural growth and the agricultural sector gained in prominence. The government backed the agricultural sector by the way of research and by setting up Commodity Committees. The first agricultural university was set up in 1961 at Pantnagar in UP.

In the 1950' and 1960's improved agricultural practices, better seeds and use of fertilizer, soil and water conservation, land development, land consolidation, agricultural credit and marketing and price incentive resulted in improved agricultural productivity.

Green Revolution
The Green Revolution is referred to the period between 1967 to 1978.The population was growing faster than the rate of food grain production at that period. The government realized the need for dramatic improvement in food grain production. This resulted in the Green Revolution. The Green Revolution concentrated on:
  • Continuous Increase Of Farming Areas.
  • Double Cropping Existing Farmland.
  • Using genetically modified seeds.
During the 1980's in spite of three years of scanty rainfall and a drought during the middle of the decade, India managed without large scale food imports, because of the increase in food grain production and the existence of a large buffer stock insulating against any agricultural crisis. By the 1990's India had attained self sufficiency in food grain production, because the rate of increase in food grain production has kept pace with the increase in population. This is directly the result of Green Revolution, improved seeds and fertilizers, better irrigation and increased awareness among the farmers. But on the flip side the Indian agriculture is still dependant on the monsoon and the fortunes of the agriculture sector vary according to the monsoon.

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