- Key Indicators
India ranked third among top 3 global producers of food grains with production of
264.77 million metric tons (MMT), after China at 551 MMT and United States at 437
MMT (The World Bank, 2015).
In 1950, Indian agricultural output
was a meager 50.82 Million Metric Tonnes (MMT) of food grains to feed 361 million
mouths, and composed of;
- Rice - 20.58 MMT
- Wheat – 6.46 MMT
- Coarse cereals – 15.38 MMT
- Pulses – 8.41 MMT (Govt. of India, 2015).
Post-independence, policy makers
emphasized increasing production of fertilizers and area of irrigated lands. Tall
and thin straw varieties of crops were unable to hold nutrientfortified grains.
By 1960s, India was world’s leading
importer of food grains under the Food for Peace Program, popularly known
as PL 480 program of the United States, and imported nearly 16 million metric tonnes of food grains.
The dangers of food scarcity, excessive dependence on food imports and low foreign
exchange reserves, constituted potential threats to India’s security.
Policy makers and scientists imported
high-yielding varieties (HVY) of wheat seeds from CIMMYT Mexico, and short-stiff
straw rice varieties from Japan, and later from Taiwan and IRRI in Philippines.
New farming and irrigation techniques to increase agricultural yields were also
initiated (Swaminathan, 2012).
By the late 1960s, wheat production
tripled to 20.09 MMT and production of rice doubled to 40.43 MMT, as a result of
the High-Yielding Varieties (HYV) program implemented by Govt. of India in 1966-67
( (Planning Commission, 2014).
In 2011, 263 million Indians
were classified as ‘agricultural workers’, a nearly two-fold increase from 131.1
million in 1960 (Govt. of India, 2015).