Agriculture is one of the strongholds of the Indian economy and accounts for 14.6 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009-10, and 10.23 per cent (provisional) of the total exports. Furthermore, the sector provided employment to 58.2 per cent of the work force.
The Indian Agricultural Scenario
The total geographical area of India is 328.7 million hectares of which 140.3 million hectares is net sown area, while 193.7 million hectares is the gross cropped area, according to the Annual Report 2009-10 of the Ministry of Agriculture.
According to Annual Report 2009-10 of the Ministry of Agriculture, production of foodgrains during 2009-10 is estimated at 216.85 million tonnes (MT) as per 2nd Advance Estimates.
India has become the world's largest producer across a range of commodities due to its favourable agro-climatic conditions and rich natural resource base.
India is the largest producer of coconuts, mangoes, bananas, milk and dairy products, cashew nuts, pulses, ginger, turmeric and black pepper. It is also the second largest producer of rice, wheat, sugar, cotton, fruits and vegetables.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has pegged India's rice output up by 13 per cent at 99 million tonnes in 2010-11.
About 85 per cent of the country's total rice output is grown during the kharif season (between June and September), while the rest of the 15 per cent is cultivated during the rabi season (between November and February).
Further, according to the USDA, India's cotton production may increase by over 6 per cent to a record 25 million bales in 2010-11, provided India receives normal monsoon this year.
Cotton output is pegged at 23.5 million bales (one bale equals 170 kg) in 2009-10 marketing season (August-July).
According to the government's agri-trade promotion body, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), India's exports of agricultural and floricultural products, fruits and vegetables, animal products and processed food products was worth US$ 8.1 billion in 2008-09, an increase of 13.88 per cent from US$ 7.11 billion in 2007-08.
Exports during April-December 2009-10 were worth US$ 54.16 million.
India's agri-export turnover is expected to double in the next five years, according to APEDA. Agri-export turnover is set to rise to nearly US$ 18 billion by 2014.
At present, around 70 per cent of the country's agricultural and processed food exports are to developing countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and South America.
Indian seed companies are eyeing the export markets in SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) and African countries with a host of hybrid seeds and best farm practices. While some of the companies like J K Seeds, Namdhari Seeds, Nuziveedu Seeds, Nath Seeds, Rasi and Vibha Seeds have already ventured into the export markets in the region.
The public and private sector investment in agriculture have been steadily increasing since 2004-05. While public sector investments in agriculture have increased from US$ 3.61 billion in 2004-05 to US$ 5.5 billion in 2008-09, private sector investment has increased from US$ 14 billion in 2004-05 to US$ 25.5 billion in 2008-09, according to the Annual Report 2009-10 of the Ministry of Agriculture.