'Agriculture and Atmanirbharta' Is a Noble Vision, but Needs Hard Decisions and Political Consensus -Siraj Hussain
While self-sufficiency has been baked into how India has historically looked at the agriculture sector, long-term planning is the need of the hour.
In his address to the nation on May 12, 2020, the Prime Minister gave a call for Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. He said that the state of the world today teaches us that an Atmanirbhar Bharat is the only path and our scriptures mention eshah panthah, self-sufficient India.
For agriculture, self-sufficiency has been an objective from the first five-year plan itself, which allocated about one third of plan funds to agriculture. Large irrigation projects were started and several fertiliser manufacturing units were set up in the public sector. Agriculture grew by 3.22 % in the first plan (1951-52 to 1955-56) and 3.59 % in the second plan (1956-57 to 1960-61).
The green revolution was initiated in the third plan and despite loss of momentum in the 1990s, the country has become largely self-sufficient in most food items, though India still depends on imports for about two third of its edible oils requirement. Also, in spite of low consumption of proteins by a vast section of population, India has been a net importer of pulses for most of the years in the last decade. The country also had to import other agricultural produce from time to time e.g. in 2019-20 import of five lakh tonnes of maize was permitted by the government.
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TheWire.in, 25 August, 2020, https://thewire.in/agriculture/agriculture-atmanirbharta-decision-politics