The following points highlight the eleven plans which helped in the progress of Indian agriculture
1. The First Plan (1951-56):
Immediately after independence, the country was faced with two major problems – food crisis, and shortage of industrial raw materials such as raw jute and raw cotton.
The major objectives of the First Plan in the field of agriculture were to correct the imbalances caused by partition in the supply of food grains and commercial crops and improve infrastructural facilities.
Agriculture, including irrigation and power, was, therefore, accorded the highest priority. That is why the First Plan assigned the maximum priority to the agricultural sector. This is clear from the fact that 31 p.c. of the total plan outlay was devoted to agriculture. But the First Plan set very modest targets for the production of most crops.
The results achieved during the First Plan were quite satisfactory for two-fold reason—favourable weather conditions and effective implementation of plan programmes. Consequently, the target for food grains production was exceeded. As against the target of 62 million tonnes, actual production of food grains was nearly 66 million tonnes.
Efforts to improve agriculture were spread throughout the country and to involve every village in it through the Community Development Programme. A new land policy was also adopted with a view to eliminating exploitation and extending security of tenure.
2. The Second Plan (1956-61):
However, there was a sudden reversal of strategy during the Second Plan.
The emphasis shifted from agriculture to industry for three different reasons:
(a) The smooth performance of agriculture during the First Plan period,
(b) The possibility of financing economic development through foreign aid, particularly food aid, and
(c) The consideration that heavy industry was the leading sector of economic development.
The Government adopted the strategy of developing heavy industries following the then Soviet model of industrialisation. Consequently, the outlay on agriculture was reduced to 20 p.c from 31 p.c. made in the First Plan.
But, as far as production of major crops was concerned, quite ambitious targets were set. However, due to the adoption of a wrong strategy, miscalculation and poor implementation of most of the programmes, the performance of the agriculture was quite dismal.
3. The Third Plan (1961-66):
The planners subsequently realised that the strategy of development adopted during the Second Plan was wrong. It was felt that, in an agrarian economy, any setback on the agricultural front would spell disaster for the whole economy.
Thus, during the Third Plan the Government made greater allocation for agriculture i.e., Rs 1,745 crore compared to Rs 950 crore in the Second Plan. However, the percentage share of agriculture in total plan outlay remained unchanged at 20.
The main objectives of the Plan were to achieve self-sufficiency in food grains and increase in agricultural production to meet the requirements of industry and export. A number of institutions were set up to extend support to development activities in different fields.
The performance of the Plan was more or less satisfactory—at least in the first four years. A record output of 89 million tonnes had been achieved in case of food grains. However, the performance in the last year was dismal due to the disastrous drought of 1965-66 and two wars (one with China in 1962 and another with Pakistan in 1965).
However, in 1966-67, a new strategy of agricultural development was adopted.
Its main planks were:
(a) High Yielding Varieties Programme (HYVP), and
(b) The Multiple Cropping Programme — both based on the exotic, high-yielding, short duration crop varieties.
The other elements of the strategy were the new concepts of irrigation and water management, adaptive research and price guarantee to producers. However, due to failure on the agricultural front, the whole planning process received a severe jolt and formulation of the Fourth Plan was delayed by no less than three years.
4. The Fourth Plan (1969-74):
While most of the programmes adopted under the new strategy were continued in the Fourth Plan, a new orientation was imparted to agricultural policy. In order to achieve growth with social justice, the agricultural policy laid stress on helping the weaker and vulnerable sections of the population and backward areas.
High priority was accorded to technology as a major input. Besides attainment of self-sufficiency, the Plan envisaged building up of a sizable buffer stock and stoppage of concessional imports of food grains.
Modest targets were fixed for agricultural production and realistic allocations were made for agriculture and irrigation. The Plan started with a happy note. The production of food grains reached an all-time high of 108 million tonnes in 1970-71. However, poor monsoons in the next two years led to crop failure and this created the problem of price inflation.
5. The Fifth Plan (1974-79):
Renewed emphasis was placed on agriculture in the Fifth Plan. The growth target in the agricultural and allied sectors had been fixed at 3.94 p.c. Necessary allocation was made for important programmes like minor irrigation, high-yielding varieties of seed and distribution of fertilisers.
As in the Fourth Plan, outlay on agriculture was 21 p.c. of total Fifth Plan outlay. Ambitious targets were fixed for the agricultural sector. However, the performance was not satisfactory in the first year due to fall in production.
Due to setback on the agricultural front, the rate of growth of the economy (as measured by per capita income) reached a vanishing point. The performance of the agricultural sector, however, started improving from the second year as output reached a new record. In spite of this, the Fifth Plan was cut short by one year by the erstwhile ruling party, the Janata Government.
6. The Sixth Plan (1980-85):
The agricultural growth pattern during the Sixth Plan period took into account the immediate as well as long-term needs of agricultural commodities—both for domestic consumption and for export. The highest priority was assigned to bridging the gap prevailing between actual and potential farm yields even at current levels of technology through the removal of existing constraints. Agriculture and allied activities received adequate attention through the development of appropriate packages of technology, services and public policies.
7. The Seventh Plan (1985-90):
Total outlay on agriculture, irrigation and rural development was Rs. 48,100 crore or 22 p.c. of the total plan outlay. The Seventh Plan aimed at an agricultural growth rate of 4 p.c. p.a. and the target for food grains output was kept at 3.7 p.c. p.a.
The major programme thrusts in the Seventh Plan were:
(i) Special rice production programmes in the Eastern region,
(ii) National Oilseeds Development Projects,
(iii) National Watershed Development Programme for rain-fed agriculture, and
(iv) social forestry.
This sector witnessed a growth rate of 3.2 p.c. p.a. During the Seventh Plan, the area under irrigation was proposed to be increased at the rate of 2.5 million hectares p.a.
8. The Eighth Plan (1992-97):
The Eighth Plan gave priority to the “growth and diversification of agriculture to achieve self-sufficiency in food and generate a surplus for exports.” Investment in agriculture, irrigation and allied sectors showed a sharp rise over the previous plans.
The share of public and private sectors investments in the Eighth Plan in agriculture and rural development stood at 22 p.c. of the total investment as compared to 11.23 p.c. in the Seventh Plan. The Eighth Plan aimed at achieving an agricultural growth rate of 4 p.c. during the Plan period. A major effort was given during the Eighth Plan period to increase the output of rice, pulses and oilseeds.
During the plan period, there has been a shortfall in investment in all the sectors, including agriculture where, actual investment was just 59 p.c. of planned investment. Despite this, agriculture recorded a growth rate of 4.7 p.c. At the end year of that Plan, food grains output, however, touched a record level of 199.3 million tonnes against the target of 210 million tonnes.
9. The Ninth Plan (1997-2002):
The thrust of the Ninth Plan was to achieve agriculture-led growth. For the first time since 1960s, the Planning Commission had focused on agriculture, instead of industry, in the Ninth Plan. It was targeted to grow at 4.5 p.c. p.a. during the Ninth Plan period. It envisaged a food production of230 million tonnes against the 1990 “million tonnes attained in 1996-97.
Actual production of food grains fell far short of the targeted production. Actual production was 212 million—a shortfall of 18 million tonnes. In case of production of oilseeds, performance was disappointing. Anyway, food crisis did not emerge because of building up of huge buffer stock of food grains.
To achieve this growth rate, the Planning Commission recommended a four-pronged strategy including a viable minimum support price and input subsidy policy. The public sector had been allocated Rs 8,75,000 crore. Agriculture got a whopping 19.4 p.c. of the total on outlay.
The actual growth rate in agriculture and allied activities fell short even of the revised targets of 3.9 p.c. Realised growth rate for 1997-2002 came to 2.1 p.c. The reform process had failed to stimulate our agricultural sector.
10. The Tenth Plan (2002-07):
The Ninth Plan experienced a slowdown in the growth potential of the economy that needed to be reversed in the Tenth Plan. As for as the sectoral allocation of public resources is concerned, agriculture did not receive high priority in the Tenth Plan.
Tenth Plan allocation for agriculture, irrigation, etc., amounted to Rs 3,05,055 crore— an increase of 51.4 p.c. over the Ninth Plan. It aimed at pushing up the growth rate of agriculture 2.1 p.c. on the average attained during the Ninth Plan to 4 p.c. during the entire Plan period of the Tenth Plan.
Tenth Plan recorded a growth rate of 2.3 p.c. (because of poor monsoon. Deficient rainfall in 2002, 2004 and 2006 has led to (i) poor agricultural growth, (ii) reduction in the share of agriculture in GDP from 23.8 p.c. in 2002-03 to 20.5 p.c. in 2006-07.
Economic Survey, 2006-07 says, “The structural weaknesses of the agriculture sector reflected in low level of public investment, exhaustion of the yield potential of new high yielding varieties of wheat and rice, unbalanced fertiliser use, low seeds replacement rate, inadequate incentive system and post-harvest value addition were manifest in the lackluster growth during the new millennium.”
11. The Eleventh Plan (2007-12) and Second Green Revolution:
Against the backdrop of miserable performance of Indian agriculture during the Tenth Plan, a higher annual growth rate of 4 p.c. p.a. to achieve the targeted GDP growth rate of 10 p.c. over this plan period is urgently needed in the current plan.
To attain such growth rate, what is needed is an improvement in the scale of operations and quality of agricultural reforms introduced by State Governments and various agencies. These reforms must aim at efficient use of various agricultural resources and conservation of soil, water and energy on a sustainable basis and in a holistic framework.
However, this plan places emphasis on corporate investment to boost agricultural growth. The approach paper envisages contract farming as a method of attracting corporate investment in Indian agriculture.
The Approach Paper of the Eleventh Plan has highlighted this holistic framework and mapped out this following strategies to be adopted during the Eleventh Plan period:
(i) Doubling the rate of growth of irrigated areas;
(ii) Improving water management, water harvesting and watershed development;
(iii) Diversification of crops into high value outputs (fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs and spices) without disturbing food security;
(iv) Providing easy access to credit at affordable rates,
(v) Refocusing on land reform issues.
Thrust areas of the Eleventh Plan relating to agriculture and irrigation cover:
(i) Ensuring food security;
(ii) Supportive State-specific agriculture strategy and programmes;
(iii) Better seed production,
(iv) Development of modern markets, etc.
The Approach Paper of the Eleventh Plan supports the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers relating to soil health care and enhancement, water harvesting, credit and insurance reform, technology delivery, assured and remunerative marketing, etc.
Finally, this Approach paper calls for a ‘Second’ green revolution that involves improvement in farm productivity on a sustainable basis—without injuring ecology.