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history of agriculture

“My grandfather used
to say that once in your
life you need a doctor,
a lawyer, a policeman,
and a preacher. But
every day, three times a
day, you need a farmer.”


Indian agriculture began by 9000 BCE on north-west India as a result of early cultivation of plants, and domestication of crops and animals. Settled life soon followed with implements and techniques being developed for agriculture. Indian products soon reached the world via existing trading networks and foreign crops were introduced to India. The middle ages saw irrigation channels reach a new level of sophistication in India and Indian crops affecting the economies of other regions of the world. Land and water management systems were developed with an aim of providing uniform growth. Despite some stagnation during the later modern era the independent Republic of India was able to develop a comprehensive agricultural programme. Indian agricultural production increased under the Mughal Empire during which India’s population growth accelerated. A variety of crops were grown, including food crops such as wheat, rice and barley and non-food cash crops such as cotton, indigo and opium By the mid-17th century.

By 1947 onwards, special programmes were undertaken to improve food and cash crops supply. The Grow More Food Campaign (1940s) and the Integrated Production Programme (1950s) focused on food and cash crops supply respectively. Five years plan of India—oriented towards agricultural development—soon followed. Land reclamation, land development, mechanisation, electrification, use of chemicals—fertilisers in particular, and development of agriculture oriented ‘package approach’ of taking a set of actions instead of promoting single aspect soon followed under government supervision. The many ‘production revolutions’ initiated from 1960s onwards included GREEN REVOLUTION OF INDIA , Yellow Revolution, and many others. Following the economic reforms of 1991, significant growth was registered in the agricultural sector, which was by now benefiting from the earlier reforms and the newer innovations of Agro-processing and biotechnology.

Due to the growth and prosperity that followed India’s economic reforms a strong middle class emerged as the main consumer of fruits, dairy, fish, meat and vegetables—a marked shift from the earlier staple based consumption. Since 1991, changing consumption patterns led to a ‘revolution’ in ‘high crop value’ agriculture while the need for cereals is experienced a decline. Agricultural exports continued to grow at well over 10.1% annually through the 1990s.

The 1991 reforms also contributed to a rise in suicides by indebted farmers in India following crop failures. Various studies identify the important factors as the withdrawal of government support, insufficient or risky credit systems, the difficulty of farming semi-arid regions, poor agricultural income, absence of alternative income opportunities. Since independence, India has become one of the largest producers of wheat, edible oil, potato, spices, rubber, tea, fishing, fruits, and vegetables in the world. The Ministry of Agriculture  oversees activities relating to agriculture in India. Various institutions for agriculture related research in India were organised under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. 

Agriculture in Punjab

Majority of population of Punjab relies on agriculture for meeting up their daily requirements. Punjab holds place of pride among the Indian States for its outstanding achievements in agricultural development. The state has witnessed tremendous increase in the agricultural production during the Green Revolution period, mainly due to healthy mix of institutional and technological factors. Agrarian economy, consolidation of landholdings, reclamation of new agricultural lands, development of irrigation, use of biochemical inputs comprising high yielding variety seeds, chemical fertilizers, insecticides and mechanical inputs were among the important factors which helped Punjab agriculture in making rapid strides. Dominating rural based political power with agricultural background provided favorable environment through thrust on rural and agricultural development. 

Punjab’s economy has been primarily agriculture-based since the Green Revolution due to the presence of abundant water sources and fertile soils;  most of the state lies in a fertile alluvial plain with many rivers and an extensive irrigation canal system. Punjab makes up for about 17% of India’s wheat production (second highest amongst Indian states and union territories after  Uttar Pradesh  the latter producing more than 30% of the nation’s supply), around 12% of its rice production, and around 5% of its milk production, being known as India’s Breadbreakfast.

The percentage of GDP produced by the agricultural sector was 25% in 2018–19. The growth rate of the agricultural sector was only 2.3% in 2018–19, compared to 6.0% for the state’s economy as a whole. Despite covering only 1.53%  of its geographical area, Punjab makes up for about 15–20%  of India’s wheat production, around 12%  of its rice production, and around 10%  of its milk production. About 80%-95% of Punjab’s agricultural land is owned by its Jatt Sikh community despite it only forming 21% of the state’s population.

The largest grown crop is wheat. Other important crops are rice, sugarcane, millet, maize  and fruits. Among the fodder crops are bajra and jowar. In the category of fruits, it produces abundant stock of kinnow. The main sources of irrigation  are canals and tube wells.