Since then the sector has been feeding the world population and therefore is a lifeline for the entire planet. Despite the ever-increasing demand for food, the agriculture sector globally has remained subdued in the past few centuries with industry and services assuming greater significance. The share of agriculture and allied sectors in global GDP dwindled from 7.6% in 1995 to 4% in 20181. A similar trend is evident in India. While the total foodgrain production has risen from 51 MT in 1950-512 to about 281.7 MT in 2018-193, the share of agriculture in our total GDP dropped from more than 50% in 1950-514 to 17.1% in 2018-195. In the last 15 years though the share of agriculture in total GDP has remained fairly steady between 17% and 20%.
Globally, India stands at the second position in terms of total wheat and rice production6. Although the rate of growth in agriculture GDP has remained modest and chequered since independence, the fact remains that the sector has expanded manifold post-independence. The agriculture GDP (at 2004-05 prices) increased from Rs 168,361 crores in 1954-55 to Rs 800,548 crores in 2014-157. As against this, the total workforce dependant on agriculture (cultivators and agricultural labourers) declined from 69.7% of the total workforce in 1951 to 54.6% in 20118, thus employing more than half of our working population even today.
After the initial thrust of the Green Revolution in 1960s, Indian agriculture was becoming docile with the national focus shifting to industry and service sectors. However, the inherent significance of agriculture persists on account of the need to attain and maintain food security, the dependence of large section of the population on the sector, risks posed by climate change, challenges and opportunities from global integration of markets, increasing burden of subsidies, changing food habits, focus on wellness and expanding market for herbal products.
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