Food security is of paramount importance to meet the growing food needs of an ever increasing population. Not having sufficient domestic production of food to meet requirement of 1.25 billion plus and still expanding will not only put a huge burden on scarce foreign exchange resources but can also expose us to exploitation in global market. Hence, there can be no compromise on this overriding goal.
Agriculture has a share of around 15% in gross domestic product (GDP) and nearly 60% of population derives its livelihood from it. Industry and services sectors too depend heavily on it for their rapid and sustained growth. Therefore, agriculture needs to grow rapidly not only for ensuring food security but also for giving a boost to economic growth and increase income of millions of farmers and India’s entire population.
Land – a key asset for growing food – has been ever diminishing thanks to increasing population and increasing diversion for urbanization, infrastructure and industry. Our policy makers in 60s & 70s visualized what could be in store if this went un-attended! Hence, they made the required interventions. The buzz word was ‘How to get more from every unit of land?’
Government of those times latched on to new technology that combined use of HYV seeds, fertilizers and irrigation to give higher crop yield. Fertilizers provide the much needed plant nutrients viz., N, P & K and a host of secondary & micro-nutrients that make HYV work. Irrigation gives the much needed ‘moisture’ for process of flowering & grain making
A daunting challenge was to (i) make farmers accept new technology; (ii) make required quantity of fertilizers available and (iii) ensure that farmers can afford to pay. While, objective (i) was job of extension machinery, (ii) & (iii) were essentially a function of policy.