Some of the major problems and their possible solutions have been discussed as follows. Indian agriculture is plagued by several problems; some of them are natural and some others are manmade.
1. Small and fragmented land-holdings:
The seemingly abundance of net sown area of 141.2 million hectares and total cropped area of 189.7 million hectares (1999-2000) pales into insignificance when we see that it is divided into economically unviable small and scattered holdings.
The average size of holdings was 2.28 hectares in 1970-71 which was reduced to 1.82 hectares in 1980-81 and 1.50 hectares in 1995-96. The size of the holdings will further decrease with the infinite Sub-division of the land holdings.
The problem of small and fragmented holdings is more serious in densely populated and intensively cultivated states like Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar and eastern part of Uttar Pradesh where the average size of land holdings is less than one hectare and in certain parts it is less than even 0.5 hectare.
Rajasthan with vast sandy stretches and Nagaland with the prevailing ‘Jhoom’ (shifting agriculture) have larger average sized holdings of 4 and 7.15 hectares respectively. States having high percentage of net sown area like Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh have holding size above the national average.
Further it is shocking to note that a large proportion of 59 per cent holdings in 1990- 91 were marginal (below 1 hectare) accounting for 14.9 per cent of the total operated area. Another 19 per cent were small holdings (1-2 hectare) taking up 17.3 per cent of the total operated area.
Large holdings (above 10 hectare) accounted for only 1.6 per cent of total holdings but covered 17.4 per cent of the operated area (Table 22.1). Hence, there is a wide gap between small farmers, medium farmers (peasant group) and big farmers (landlords).
The main reason for this sad state of affairs is our inheritance laws. The land belonging to the father is equally distributed among his sons. This distribution of land does not entail a collection or consolidated one, but its nature is fragmented.
Different tracts have different levels of fertility and are to be distributed accordingly. If there are four tracts which are to be distributed between two sons, both the sons will get smaller plots of each land tract. In this way the holdings become smaller and more fragmented with each passing generation.
Sub-division and fragmentation of the holdings is one of the main causes of our low agricultural productivity and backward state of our agriculture. A lot of time and labour is wasted in moving seeds, manure, implements and cattle from one piece of land to another.
Irrigation becomes difficult on such small and fragmented fields. Further, a lot of fertile agricultural land is wasted in providing boundaries. Under such circumstances, the farmer cannot concentrate on improvement.
The only answer to this ticklish problem is the consolidation of holdings which means the reallocation of holdings which are fragmented, the creation of farms which comprise only one or a few parcels in place of multitude of patches formerly in the possession of each peasant.
But unfortunately, this plan has not succeeded much. Although legislation for consolidation of holdings has been enacted by almost all the states, it has been implemented only in Punjab, Haryana and in some parts of Uttar Pradesh.
Consolidation of about 45 million holdings has been done till 1990-91 in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. The other solution to this problem is cooperative farming in which the farmers pool their resources and share the profit.
Seed is a critical and basic input for attaining higher crop yields and sustained growth in agricultural production. Distribution of assured quality seed is as critical as the production of such seeds. Unfortunately, good quality seeds are out of reach of the majority of farmers, especially small and marginal farmers mainly because of exorbitant prices of better seeds.
In order to solve this problem, the Government of India established the National Seeds Corporation (NSC) in 1963 and the State Farmers Corporation of India (SFCI) in 1969. Thirteen State Seed Corporations (SSCs) were also established to augment the supply of improved seeds to the farmers.
High Yielding Variety Programme (HYVP) was launched in 1966-67 as a major thrust plan to increase the production of food grains in the country.
The Indian seed industry had exhibited impressive growth in the past and is expected to provide further potential for growth in agricultural production: The role of seed industry is not only to produce adequate quantity of quality seeds but also to achieve varietal diversity to suit various agro-climatic zones of the country.
The policy statements are designed towards making available to the Indian farmer, adequate quantities of seed of superior quality at the appropriate time and place and at an affordable price so as to meet the country’s food and nutritional security goals.
Indian seeds programme largely adheres to limited generation system for seed multiplication. The system recognises three kinds of generation, namely breeder, foundation and certified seeds. Breeder seed is the basic seed and first stage in seed production. Foundation seed is the second stage in seed production chain and is the progeny of breeder seed.
Certified seed is the ultimate stage in seed production chain and is the progeny of foundation seed. Production of breeder and foundation seeds and certified seeds distribution have gone up at an annual average rate of 3.4 per cent, 7.5 per cent and 9.5 per cent respectively, between 2001-02 and 2005-06).
3. Manures, Fertilizers and Biocides:
Indian soils have been used for growing crops over thousands of years without caring much for replenishing. This has led to depletion and exhaustion of soils resulting in their low productivity. The average yields of almost all the crops are among t e lowest in the world. This is a serious problem which can be solved by using more manures and fertilizers.
Manures and fertilizers play the same role in relation to soils as good food in relation to body. Just as a well-nourished body is capable of doing any good job, a well nourished soil is capable of giving good yields. It has been estimated that about 70 per cent of growth in agricultural production can be attributed to increased fertilizer application.
Thus increase in the consumption of fertilizers is a barometer of agricultural prosperity. However, there are practical difficulties in providing sufficient manures and fertilizers in all parts of a country of India’s dimensions inhabited by poor peasants. Cow dung provides the best manure to the soils.
But its use as such is limited because much of cow dung is used as kitchen fuel in the shape of dung cakes. Reduction in the supply of fire wood and increasing demand for fuel in the rural areas due to increase in population has further complicated the problem. Chemical fertilizers are costly and are often beyond the reach of the poor farmers. The fertilizer problem is, therefore, both acute and complex.
It has been felt that organic manures are essential for keeping the soil in good health. The country has a potential of 650 million tonnes of rural and 160 lakh tonnes of urban compost which is not fully utilized at present. The utilization of this potential will solve the twin problem of disposal of waste and providing manure to the soil.
The government has given high incentive especially in the form of heavy subsidy for using chemical fertilizers. There was practically no use of chemical fertilizers at the time of Independence As a result of initiative by the government and due to change in the attitude of some progressive farmers, the consumption of fertilizers increased tremendously.
In order to maintain the quality of the fertilizers, 52 fertilizer quality control laboratories have been set up in different parts of the country. In addition, there is one Central Fertilizer Quality Control and Training Institute at Faridabad with its three regional centres at Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
Pests, germs and weeds cause heavy loss to crops which amounted to about one third of the total field produce at the time of Independence. Biocides (pesticides, herbicides and weedicides) are used to save the crops and to avoid losses. The increased use of these inputs has saved a lot of crops, especially the food crops from unnecessary wastage. But indiscriminate use of biocides has resulted in wide spread environmental pollution which takes its own toll.
Although India is the second largest irrigated country of the world after China, only one-third of the cropped area is under irrigation. Irrigation is the most important agricultural input in a tropical monsoon country like India where rainfall is uncertain, unreliable and erratic India cannot achieve sustained progress in agriculture unless and until more than half of the cropped area is brought under assured irrigation.
This is testified by the success story of agricultural progress in Punjab Haryana and western part of Uttar Pradesh where over half of the cropped area is under irrigation! Large tracts still await irrigation to boost the agricultural output.
However, care must be taken to safeguard against ill effects of over irrigation especially in areas irrigated by canals. Large tracts in Punjab and Haryana have been rendered useless (areas affected by salinity, alkalinity and water-logging), due to faulty irrigation. In the Indira Gandhi Canal command area also intensive irrigation has led to sharp rise in sub-soil water level, leading to water-logging, soil salinity and alkalinity.
5. Lack of mechanisation:
In spite of the large scale mechanisation of agriculture in some parts of the country, most of the agricultural operations in larger parts are carried on by human hand using simple and conventional tools and implements like wooden plough, sickle, etc.
Little or no use of machines is made in ploughing, sowing, irrigating, thinning and pruning, weeding, harvesting threshing and transporting the crops. This is specially the case with small and marginal farmers. It results in huge wastage of human labour and in low yields per capita labour force.
There is urgent need to mechanise the agricultural operations so that wastage of labour force is avoided and farming is made convenient and efficient. Agricultural implements and machinery are a crucial input for efficient and timely agricultural operations, facilitating multiple cropping and thereby increasing production.
Some progress has been made for mechanising agriculture in India after Independence. Need for mechanisation was specially felt with the advent of Green Revolution in 1960s. Strategies and programmes have been directed towards replacement of traditional and inefficient implements by improved ones, enabling the farmer to own tractors, power tillers, harvesters and other machines.
A large industrial base for manufacturing of the agricultural machines has also been developed. Power availability for carrying out various agricultural operations has been increased to reach a level of 14 kW per hectare in 2003-04 from only 0.3 kW per hectare in 1971-72.
This increase was the result of increasing use of tractor, power tiller and combine harvesters, irrigation pumps and other power operated machines. The share of mechanical and electrical power has increased from 40 per cent in 1971 to 84 per cent in 2003-04.
Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest average sales of tractors during the five year period ending 2003-04 and/West Bengal recorded the highest average sales of power tillers during the same period.
Strenuous efforts are being made to encourage the farmers to adopt technically advanced agricultural equipments in order to carry farm operations timely and precisely and to economise the agricultural production process.
6. Soil erosion:
Large tracts of fertile land suffer from soil erosion by wind and water. This area must be properly treated and restored to its original fertility.
7. Agricultural Marketing:
Agricultural marketing still continues to be in a bad shape in rural India. In the absence of sound marketing facilities, the farmers have to depend upon local traders and middlemen for the disposal of their farm produce which is sold at throw-away price.
In most cases, these farmers are forced, under socio-economic conditions, to carry on distress sale of their produce. In most of small villages, the farmers sell their produce to the money lender from whom they usually borrow money.
According to an estimate 85 per cent of wheat and 75 per cent of oil seeds in Uttar Pradesh, 90 per cent of Jute in West Bengal, 70 per cent of oilseeds and 35 per cent of cotton in Punjab is sold by farmers in the village itself. Such a situation arises due to the inability of the poor farmers to wait for long after harvesting their crops.
In order to meet his commitments and pay his debt, the poor farmer is forced to sell the produce at whatever price is offered to him. The Rural Credit Survey Report rightly remarked that the producers in general sell their produce at an unfavourable place and at an unfavourable time and usually they get unfavourable terms.
In the absence of an organised marketing structure, private traders and middlemen dominate the marketing and trading of agricultural produce. The remuneration of the services provided by the middlemen increases the load on the consumer, although the producer does not derive similar benefit.
Many market surveys have revealed that middlemen take away about 48 per cent of the price of rice, 52 per cent of the price of grounduts and 60 per cent of the price of potatoes offered by consumers.
In order to save the farmer from the clutches of the money lenders and the middle men, the government has come out with regulated markets. These markets generally introduce a system of competitive buying, help in eradicating malpractices, ensure the use of standardised weights and measures and evolve suitable machinery for settlement of disputes thereby ensuring that the producers are not subjected to exploitation and receive remunerative prices.
8. Inadequate storage facilities:
Storage facilities in the rural areas are either totally absent or grossly inadequate. Under such conditions the farmers are compelled to sell their produce immediately after the harvest at the prevailing market prices which are bound to be low. Such distress sale deprives the farmers of their legitimate income.
The Parse Committee estimated the post-harvest losses at 9.3 per cent of which nearly 6.6 per cent occurred due to poor storage conditions alone. Scientific storage is, therefore, very essential to avoid losses and to benefit the farmers and the consumers alike.
At present there are number of agencies engaged in warehousing and storage activities. The Food Corporation of India (F.C.I.), the Central Warehousing Corporation (C.W.C.) and State Warehousing Corporation are among the principal agencies engaged in this task. These agencies help in building up buffer stock, which can be used in the hour of need. The Central Government is also implementing the scheme for establishment of national Grid of Rural Godowns since 1979-80.
This scheme provides storage facilities to the farmers near their fields and in particular to the small and marginal farmers. The Working Group on additional storage facilities in rural areas has recommended a scheme of establishing a network of Rural Storage Centres to serve the economic interests of the farming community.
9. Inadequate transport:
One of the main handicaps with Indian agriculture is the lack of cheap and efficient means of transportation. Even at present there are lakhs of villages which are not well connected with main roads or with market centres.
Most roads in the rural areas are Kutcha (bullock- cart roads) and become useless in the rainy season. Under these circumstances the farmers cannot carry their produce to the main market and are forced to sell it in the local market at low price. Linking each village by metalled road is a gigantic task and it needs huge sums of money to complete this task.
10. Scarcity of capital:
Agriculture is an important industry and like all other industries it also requires capital. The role of capital input is becoming more and more important with the advancement of farm technology. Since the agriculturists’ capital is locked up in his lands and stocks, he is obliged to borrow money for stimulating the tempo of agricultural production.
The main suppliers of money to the farmer are the money-lenders, traders and commission agents who charge high rate of interest and purchase the agricultural produce at very low price. All India Rural Credit Survey Committee showed that in 1950-51 the share of money lenders stood at as high as 68.6 per cent of the total rural credit and in 1975-76 their share declined to 43 per cent of the credit needs of the farmers.
This shows that the money lender is losing ground but is still the single largest contributor of agricultural credit. Rural credit scenario has undergone a significant change and institutional agencies such as Central Cooperative Banks, State Cooperative Banks, Commercial Banks, Cooperative Credit Agencies and some Government Agencies are extending loans to farmers on easy terms.
There has been a steady increase in the flow of institutional credit to agriculture over the years (Table 22.3).
Table 22.3 Institutional Credit to Agriculture:
Share (per cent)
Regional Rural Banks
Share (per cent)
Share (per cent)
Per cent increase
It is sad but true that the cases of farmer suicides in India have increased over the years. There are a number of reasons that contribute to it. These include the erratic weather conditions, debt burden, family issues and change in government policies among others.
Farmer Suicides in India has seen an increase over the period of time. The main reasons for this are the growing disparity in the weather conditions, high debts, health issues, personal problems, government policies, etc. Here are essays on varying lengths on the unfortunate phenomena of farmer suicides in India.
Essay on Farmer Suicides in India
Farmer Suicides in India Essay 1 (200 words)
Several farmers in India commit suicide each year. The National Crime Records Bureau of India has reported that the cases of farmer suicides in the country are higher than that in any other occupation. The cases in the state of Maharashtra, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are comparatively higher. A number of factors are said to be responsible for this. Some of the major reasons for farmer suicides in India include:
- Inability to pay debt.
- Damaging of crops due to erratic weather conditions such as droughts and floods.
- Unfavorable government policies.
- Inability to meet the demands of the family.
- Personal issues.
The government has taken several initiatives to curb the problem. Some of these include the Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme, 2008, Maharashtra Money Lending (Regulation) Act, 2008, Relief Package 2006, and Diversify Income Sources Package 2013. Certain states have also formed groups to help farmers in distress. However, most of these initiatives are focused on providing or repaying loans rather than helping the farmers increase productivity and income and have thus yielded the desired results.
The government needs to look into the matter seriously and take effective steps to eradicate the factors leading to the farmer suicides in order to do away with this problem.
Farmer Suicides in India Essay 2 (300 words)
The cases of farmer suicides in India, just like many other countries, are far higher in comparison to that in other occupations. Statistics reveal that 11.2% of the total suicides in the country are farmer suicides. A number of factors contribute towards farmer suicides in India. Here is a detailed look at these reasons as well as the measures being taken by the government to help farmers in distress.
Why are Farmers taking this Extreme Step?
There are a number of reasons why farmers in India are committing suicides. One of the main reasons is the erratic weather conditions in the country. Global warming has led to extreme weather conditions such as drought and floods in most parts of the country. Such extreme conditions lead to damaging of crops and the farmers are left with nothing. When the crop yield is not sufficient, the farmers are forced to take debt to fulfil their financial needs. Unable to repay the debt, many farmers usually take the unfortunate step of committing suicide.
Most farmers are the sole earners of the family. They face constant pressure to fulfil the demands and responsibilities of the family and the stress caused by the inability to meet the same often leads to farmer suicides. Other factors responsible for the increasing number of farmer suicide cases in India include low produce prices, changes in government policies, poor irrigation facilities and alcohol addiction.
Measures Taken to Control Farmer Suicides
Some of the initiatives taken by the government of India to control the cases of farmer suicides in the country include:
- The Relief Package 2006.
- Maharashtra Money Landing (regulation) Act 2008.
- Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme 2008.
- Maharashtra Relief Package 2010.
- Kerala Farmers’ Debt Relief Commission (Amendment) Bill 2012.
- Diversify Income Sources Package 2013.
- 70% cut in Monsanto’s Royalties.
- Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojna (Crop Insurance for Farmers).
- Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna.
- Soil Health Cards.
It is sad how several farmers commit suicide unable to cope up with financial and emotional upheaval in their lives. The government must take effective steps to control these cases.
Farmer Suicides in India Essay 3 (400 words)
It is highly unfortunate that in a country like India where approximately 70% of the total population is directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture, the cases of farmer suicides are increasing by the day. 11.2% of the total suicides in the country are farmer suicides. Several factors contribute towards farmer suicides in India and though the government has taken quite a few measures to control the problem, the initiatives taken do not seem effective enough. The solutions suggested here should help in bringing down the cases of farmer suicides in India.
Agricultural Issues in India
The government has been taking initiatives to support the farmers financially by reducing the interest rates on loans and even waving off agricultural loans. However, these haven’t helped much. It is time for the government to recognise the root cause of the problem and work towards eliminating it in order to control the cases of farmer suicides. Here are some of the issues that need immediate attention:
- Agricultural activities in the country must be organized. Proper planning must be done for cultivation, irrigation and harvesting of crops.
- The government must see to it that the farmers get the fixed purchase price.
- Exploitation of farmers by the middlemen must be stopped. The government must make provisions for the farmers to sell their products directly in the market.
- The government must ensure that the subsidies and schemes launched reach the farmers.
- Selling of fertile land to real estate owners must be stopped.
Measures to Control Farmer Suicides in India
Here are some initiatives that the government must take proactively to control the issue of farmer suicides in India:
- The government must set up exclusive agricultural zones where only agricultural activities should be allowed.
- Initiative must be taken to teach modern farming techniques to the farmers to help them increase farm productivity.
- Irrigation facilities must be improved.
- National weather risk management system must be put in place to alert farmers about the extreme weather conditions.
- Genuine crop insurance policies must be launched.
- Farmers must be encouraged to go for alternative sources of income. Government should help them acquire the new skills.
It is high time the government of India starts taking the grave issue of farmer suicides more seriously. The initiatives taken until now have not been able to bring down these cases. This means the strategies being followed need to be re-evaluated and implemented.
Farmer Suicides in India Essay 4 (500 words)
Several cases of farmer suicides are reported each year in India. As per the National Crime Records Bureau of India, the cases of farmer suicides reported in the year 2004 were 18,241 – the highest recorded in a year till date. Statistics reveal that farmer suicides account for 11.2% of the total suicides in the country. A number of reasons such as extreme weather conditions like drought and floods, high debt, unfavourable government policies, public mental health issue and poor irrigation facilities are said to be responsible for the increasing number of famer suicide cases in India. The matter is serious and the government is working towards controlling this problem.
Government Initiatives to Stop Farmer Suicides
Here are some of the initiatives taken by the Indian government to help the farmers in distress and rule out suicides:
- Relief Package 2006
In the year 2006, the Indian Government identified 31 districts in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh and introduced an exclusive rehabilitation package to ease the lot of farmers there. These are the states with high rate of farmer suicides.
- Maharashtra Bill 2008
The state government of Maharashtra passed the Money Lending (Regulation) Act, 2008 to regulate private money lending to farmers. It set the maximum interest rates on the loans given to farmers by private lenders as slightly higher than the money lending rate set by Reserve Bank of India.
- Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme
The Indian government launched the Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme in the year 2008 that benefitted more than 36 million farmers. Under this scheme, a total of Rs 653 billion was spent to write off part of the loan principal and interest owed by the farmers.
- Maharashtra Relief Package 2010
The Maharashtra government made it illegal for the non-licensed moneylenders from procuring loan repayment in 2010. Farmers were entitled to many other benefits under this package.
- Kerala Farmers’ Debt Relief Commission (Amendment) Bill 2012
In 2012, Kerala amended the Kerala Farmers’ Debt Relief Commission Act 2006 to provide benefits to distressed farmers with loans through 2011.
- Diversify Income Sources Package 2013
The government has introduced this package for farmer-suicide prone regions such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
- State Initiatives
Many state governments in India have taken special initiatives to prevent farmer suicides. Groups have been dedicated to help farmers in distress and funds have also been raised to provide monetary help.
More recently, the Modi government has also taken steps to tackle the issue of farmer suicides in India. It has announced a 70% cut in Monsanto’s Royalties, relief to farmers in input subsidy and launched the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojna (Crop Insurance for Farmers) and Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna. The government is also issuing Soil Health Cards that includes crop-wise recommendations of nutrients and fertilizers to help farmers enhance farm productivity.
Farmer suicide is a grave issue. While the government has launched several packages to help the farmers in distress these have not helped much in putting an end to farmer suicide cases. It is high time the government of India should recognize the sensitivity of the issue and work towards it in a way that this problem comes to an end.
Farmer Suicides in India Essay 5 (600 words)
Numerous farmer suicide cases are reported each year in India. There are a lot of factors that force farmers to take this stern step. Frequent droughts, floods, economic crises, debt, health issues, family responsibilities, changes in the government policies, alcohol addiction, low produce prices and poor irrigation facilities are among some of the common factors that contribute to farmer suicides in India. Here is a detailed look at the farmer suicide statistical data and the factors that lead to this issue.
Farmer Suicides: Statistical Data
Statistics reveal that farmer suicides in India account for 11.2% of all the suicides. Over the period of 10 years, from 2005 to 2015, the farmer suicide rate in the country has ranged between 1.4 and 1.8 per 100,000 total population. The year 2004 saw the highest number of farmer suicides in India. As many as 18,241 farmers committed suicide during this year.
In 2010, the National Crime Records Bureau of India reported a total of 135, 599 suicides in the country out of which 15,963 were farmer suicides. In 2011, a total of 135,585 suicide cases were reported in the country out of which 14,207 were farmers. 11.2% of the total suicide cases in the year 2012 were farmers – a quarter of which were from the state of Maharashtra. In 2014, there were 5,650 farmer suicide cases. Farmer suicide rate is higher in the states of Maharashtra, Pondicherry and Kerala.
Farmer Suicides – Global Statistics
The cases of farmer suicides have not only been reported in India, the problem is global. Farmers in various countries including England, Canada, Australia, Sri Lanka and USA have also been found to be under immense stress due to problems similar to that in India and give in to suicide unable to cope up with the pressure. In countries such as US and UK also the rate of farmer suicides is higher than that of people in other professions.
Factors Responsible for Farmer Suicides
Here is a look at some of the major causes of farmer suicides in India:
Inadequate rainfall is one of the main reasons for crop failure. The regions that face frequent drought like situation see a major decline in the crop yields. The cases of farmer suicides reported in such areas are higher.
As much harm as droughts cause to the crops, floods impact them equally badly. Farms are eroded and crops get damaged due to heavy rainfall.
- High Debts
Famers usually face difficulty raising money to cultivate land and often take heavy debts for this purpose. Inability to pay these debts is another leading cause of farmer suicides.
- Government Policies
Changes in the macro-economic policy of Government of India that is known to favour liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation is also said to be a cause of farmer suicides. However, the point is debatable.
- Genetically Modified Crops
It has been claimed that genetically modified crops such as Bt cotton are also a cause of farmer suicides. This is because the Bt cotton seeds cost nearly twice as much as the ordinary seeds. The farmers are forced to take high loans from private moneylenders to grow these crops and the latter force them to sell the cotton to them at a price much lower than the market rate and this leads to increased debt and economic crises among farmers.
- Family Pressure
The inability to meet the expenses and demands of the family causes mental stress and unable to cope up with it many farmers give in to suicide.
Though the government has started taking initiatives to help the farmers in distress, however, the cases of farmer suicides in India do not seem to come down. The government needs to focus on farmer’s income and productivity to ensure their prosperity rather than merely focusing on loan relief or waivers.