Essay: Agriculture in the Indian Economy

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  • Subject area(s): Environmental studies essays
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  • Published on: July 24, 2019
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1. Introduction

Agriculture is the most vital sector of the Indian economy and providing food to a population over a billion and sustains livelihood of about two-thirds of population . Similarly, agriculture has been and continues to be lifeline of Bihar’s economy. The relevance of agriculture to Bihar’s economy is reflected at varying degrees at grass root level. Three fourth of the people in Bihar, the third most populous state with a population density around twice that of the country, is engaged in agriculture. More than 81% of the land holdings in the State are operated by small and marginal farmers who depend on financial support from external sources for carrying out the farm activities .

With this important scenario of agriculture in the state and spells out the need for reorienting the agricultural extension. The Gangetic Plains of Bihar is endowed with fertile soils, rich in water resources (groundwater and river systems) and favourable agro-climatic conditions for intensive cropping systems. This sector provides nutritional security, employment generation, and ecological benefits. There is wide scope for meaningful diversification for sustainable agriculture in terms of market and exports. Agriculture is contributing substantially to overall economic development. Basically, there are three important point need to concern on Bihar agriculture; first, increasing population pressure which required more food and decline in per capita is second issue. Third is sustainable growth of agriculture.

Therefore, to cope up with this challenge science technology and innovation are essential to increase crop farming. Ever since humans discovered, the technique of multiplying wild seeds into food and other products, and through this an unbreakable relationship between agriculture and creativity was born. Millions of farmers all over the world depends on agriculture innovation to accelerate crop production. Thus, the objectives of the paper are following:

1) To identify the occurrence and determinants of Agriculture Innovation as theoretical Framework.

2) To evaluate the consequence of their interactions in terms of production of food grains in Bihar.

3) To scrutinize the challenges of agriculture and policy implication to enhance agriculture growth in Bihar.

Thus, to tackle the objectives of the paper it has been categorized into six different section. With the following introduction, the second section of the paper deals with the theoretical concept of agriculture innovation. Similarly, third section Technological innovation of agriculture innovation which deal on their impacts on production. Fourth section cover the facing problem in agriculture in Bihar and similarly, fifth section deals with strategies of government to promote new kind of technologies for better development of agriculture based state like Bihar and final section concludes the paper.

2. Innovation System in Agriculture: A theoretical Concept

An innovation system is set of various actors which build through the wide networks of organization, enterprises and individuals which have aim to bring new products, new processes, and new forms of organization into economic use (World Bank 2006). Though, various authors (i.e. Freeman, 1987; Lundvall, 1992, or Metcalfe, 1995) defined innovation system their own way. But one thing is common in all definition that they suggest a systemic framework for inspecting the rather complex web of actors and process related to technology development. It draws two key aspects first; the multiplicity of actors involved and their interactions and second enabling environment in which these actors operate.

In the early 1980s agriculture production was integrally more fluctuate and location specific because it is a process of natural system that continuously evolve over period of time and space (Biggs and Clay, 1981). It is said that knowledge of agricultural technology primarily resides with farmers and in their field. The major difference in developed and developing countries is high rate of investment, extensive network of institutions and finally awareness of market and technological knowledge among the farmers in the developed economies. As traditionally studied, Agricultural innovations are mainly categorise as products which can be separated based on their several parameters.

2.1. Classification of Agriculture Innovation (Sonnino, 2009)

I. Genetic, mechanic and chemical innovations (private goods) and agronomic, managerial and animal husbandry innovations (public goods);

II. Individual innovations (individual adopter) and collective innovations (group of persons);

III. Continuous innovations, semi-continuous innovations, and discontinuous innovations with increasing demands for new skills, knowledge and even investments;

IV. Labour saving innovations and land saving innovations;

V. Process innovations and product innovations;

VI. Endogenous and exogenous innovations.

2.1.2. Innovations according to impact:

I. New products;

II. Yield increasing innovations;

III. Cost-reducing innovations;

IV. Innovations that enhance product quality.

The above classification depicts about the several sources available for technological improvements in agriculture sector. Substantial development in biochemical technology has been made possible by advances in basic sciences and their application to develop innovative technologies for construction, mechanical and chemical engineering. Development of technology for mechanized pumping of water using electricity and petroleum fuel has made it possible to tap deeper aquifers and accesses larger volumes of water per unit of time. Advances in chemical technology also provided the basis for development of synthetic fertilizers and agrochemicals. Improved seed varieties and agronomic practices are based on advances in basic research in biological sciences. Discoveries and inventions in electrical and mechanical engineering led to the development of transport vehicles and farm machinery.

2.2. The Evolution of Innovation System in Agriculture

There were various factors which evolved innovation system in agriculture such as the successful role played by the national innovation systems perspective in the industrial sector; the inadequacy of the linear model to explain the innovation process; the insufficiency of existing frameworks for organizational analysis to be all inclusive; and the increased demand for developmental impacts (World Bank, 2007). These factors are further discussed. The first and the main factor is the positive impact of the innovation systems in the industrial sector of many developed countries. Freeman (1987) defined national innovation systems as the network of institutes in the public and private sectors whose activities and interactions initiate, import, modify, and diffuse technologies. Lundvall (1992) highlighted that learning and the role of institutions are critical components of national innovation systems, emphasizing the notion of diffusion of economically useful knowledge. Edquist (1997) emphasized the importance of organizational and institutional change in addition to the more popular technological innovation. This innovation system is not a silver bullet for organizing innovation but it helps in planning and policymaking to enhance innovation. Because of its early success in the industrial sector, the concept is being applied in agriculture sector especially for food grain cultivation. The second factor is the lack of the linear model to explain the actual process of innovation and it has led to the multiple source of innovation model for research in agricultural and technology promotion which was first proposed by Biggs (1989). In this model, major focused on the idea that innovations come from multiple sources i.e. innovation does not only come from the researchers, but also come from practitioners in numerous settings throughout research, extension, and production systems. Biggs argues that the multiple-source model better fits the practice of agricultural R&D.

The third factor is the failure of the existing organizational framework to be all inclusive. It’s led to the new framework for national agricultural research institutes (NARIs) which first emerged after World War II. It facilitated major investments in agricultural technology to increase food production and offered an organizational structure for agricultural research to serve their interests in promoting export crop production. Although, after a decade, because of inadequacy of the NARI concept to address agricultural R&D, problems forced practitioners to look for an alternate model to put up all public institutes involved in agricultural research, extension, and education. This resulted in a number of other concepts to emerge such as agricultural knowledge and information systems (AKIS), the Technology Development and Transfer system (TDT) and AISs (Elliot 2008).

The fourth factor that agricultural practices do not address adequately are the environmental externalities accompanying technological changes leading to the incorporation of environmental and ecological considerations. Currently, research is expected to contribute to various goals, such as poverty alleviation, food and nutritional security, environmental sustainability, and other Millennium Development Goals. This links the research directly to development and cannot be achieved by single developed technologies. Innovation is vital to the realization of developmental impacts.

On the basis of these factors the evolution of innovation system concept in agriculture can be seen in two directions: (1) as a framework for organizational analysis, and (2) as a framework for technology development and dissemination, shown in figure (Anandajaysekeram, 2005). In the period of 1970s the innovation system in agriculture started with farming systems research to address farm-level productivity. A review of the literature clearly demonstrates that adoption of the innovation systems concept in agriculture has assorted impact on production.

Figure: 1. The evolution of systems thinking and its application in agriculture

Source: Anandajayasekeram et. al., 2005

In the figure, one can see that on the organizational side, it started with NARIs and steered to AISs, including all organizations focusing on knowledge generation, dissemination, and application. On the knowledge front, it moved from near term technology and productivity gains to broader development goals of poverty alleviation, food and nutrition security, and environmental sustainability. Both developments eventually led to the concept of innovation—a process that not only involves research, but also involves a wide range of activities, actors, and relationships linked with the creation and transmission of knowledge and its productive use (World Bank, 2007). Therefore, the concept of an innovation system has guided this more holistic approach to planning knowledge production and use. Managing this dynamic and complex environment requires a range of skills and tactical planning and shifts in paradigms. In response to these changes, the central source model of innovation of the 1970s and 1980s has gradually developed to the new approach towards agricultural innovation systems (AIS).

2.3. Phases in the Formation of Agriculture Innovation Platforms

An innovation platform is a physical or simulated forum that creates an environment within which to share and discuss ideas, listen and learn, think and talk, and collaborate with a view to innovate. This platform concept has been used in the agricultural sector recently. In this process, firstly, there is the facilitation of interactions and learning among actors selected from a product chain leading to participatory diagnosis of problems; and secondly there is the joint exploration of opportunities and investigation of solutions leading to the promotion of agricultural innovation (Adekunle, Fatunbi, and Jones 2010; van Rooyen and Homann 2008; Ugbe 2010 and Griffith 2009). The key steps and processes involved in the establishment and management of innovation clusters are well documented (Adekunle, Fatunbi, and Jones 2010; van Rooyen and Homann 2008; Tenywa et. al., 2011; Agyemang 2007; and Mapila, Kirsten, and Meyer 2011) and summarized in Figure 2.

Over the time, the composition of the cluster changes and it depends on the nature of the activities. In many instances work done by innovation clusters is closely associated with the market chain and the priority problem being investigated. The members of cluster do hands-on work in identifying, exploring, and exploring solutions, and in facilitating adoptions. They normally function at the level of intervention-based innovation systems. By joining together several stakeholders can be raised their issues at one stages, the innovation cluster generates site-specific solutions to produce according to market requirements, which in turn will ensure better prices for smallholder producers (van Rooyen and Homann 2008). The iterative nature of the innovation cluster provides an ideal opportunity for monitoring and to evaluate impacts and learned from results. The formation and management of innovation clusters is a dynamic, and a highly context specific process. Strong leadership, strategic partnerships, information flows, interactions, and dealing with recurrent challenges in the formation and management of innovation cluster are critical factors in fostering innovations.

Figure: 2. Steps in the formation of agricultural innovation platforms







Source: Tenywa et al. 2011

The key challenge in the implementation of innovative platforms is the low capacity of partner organizations especially the skills required by the farmers to understand and articulate key issues. This builds new relationships between the private and public sectors and farmers for mutual and sustainable benefits, and ensuring inclusiveness and eliminating marginalization within the platforms. The success of commodity-based innovation platforms requires farmers to be able to negotiate as equal partners with others. At present in many instances, farmers are unable to express their concerns or demands as an organized voice . Throughout the study, it has been demonstrated that innovation does not just happen within the supply side (based on new technological possibilities) or as a result of the articulation of user demand (based on social needs and market requirements); it occurs through a complex set of processes that link many different actors—not only the developers and users, but also a wide variety of intermediary organizations, platforms, and individuals.

The AIS perspective provides a means of analysing how knowledge is exchanged and how institutional and technological change occurs in a given society by examining the roles and interactions of diverse agents involved in the research, development, and delivery of innovations that are directly or indirectly relevant to agricultural production and consumption. It is a collaborative arrangement bringing together several organizations working toward technological, managerial, organizational, and institutional change in agriculture. This system may include the traditional sources of innovations; the modern actors such as NARIs, international agricultural research institutes, and advanced research institutes; private sectors including local, national, and multinationals; agro-industrial firms and entrepreneurs; civil society organizations for example NGOs, farmers and consumer organizations, and pressure groups; and those institutions (laws, regulations, beliefs, customs, and norms) that affect the process by which innovations are developed and delivered (World Bank, 2007). It has shown in figure 3.

Figure: 3. A typical national agricultural innovation system framework

Source: World Bank, 2007

As figure one can see that AIS combines a complete system of different agents whose interactions are stipulated by formal and informal socioeconomic institutions. It emphasizes the outcomes of knowledge generation and adoption. It highlights the importance of framework conditions and linkages to other sectors, and the broader S&T community both within and outside the country. This framework captures several things i.e. the influence of market forces, but also the impacts of organizational learning and behavioral change, nonmarket institutions, and public policy processes . To identify organizations relevant to a sector Arnold and Bell (2001) provide a typology of actors in an innovation system. This typology has four broad classifications shown in figure 4 (World Bank, 2007):

1) The demand domain primarily involves consumers and domestic and international markets for products. It also includes policy actors. Policy actors are not consumers in the conventional sense, but they have a demand for knowledge and information produced by the innovation system (to inform policy), and they should be considered an integral part of the system, just as consumers of more conventional products.

2) The research domain primarily involves formal research organizations producing mainly codified knowledge, mostly in the public sector, but it recognizes that the private sector and NGOs may also have a role.

3) The enterprise domain primarily involves firms and farmers using mainly codified and tacit knowledge and producing tacit knowledge.

4) The intermediary domain involves organizations that may not necessarily be involved in creating or using knowledge but play a critical role in ensuring that knowledge flows from one part of the system to other parts. For example, NGOs, cooperatives, or industry associations might articulate the demand for knowledge or products from disadvantaged or fragmented constituencies such as farmers. This domain could also involve organizations whose business is to broker access to knowledge, including consulting companies or third-party agencies such as those trying to give developing countries access to biotechnology tools.

Figure: 4. Elements of Agriculture Innovation Systems

Source: Arnold and Bell, 2001cited in world bank, 2007

The figure shows that actors can play multiple roles, and these roles can evolve over time. Nevertheless, the typology provides simple guidance on the sorts of organizations that are likely to be important in a sectorial innovation system.

3. Technological Innovation in Agriculture

Technological innovation in terms of Seeds, fertilizers and irrigation are the major inputs in agricultural production. A sustained increase in agriculture production and productivity is dependent on continuous development of innovation to the farmers. Mechanization and agrochemicals are the other major inputs. The spread in modern input application or it has been much slower in the state as compared to other states in the country.

However, the study of agricultural innovation is to ask farmers whether or not they have adopted one or more items in a list of recommended practices and to construct a measure of degree of acceptance on the basis of these responses. Most studies obtain much more information than simply the presence or absence of a given practice, but that is the basis of most indices of agricultural innovation. The conventional approach concentrates on the farmer and his farm operation as the units of analysis, and assumes that the practice recommended by agricultural scientists constitutes an adequate universe of innovations. Thus, the standard measures do not deal with “collective innovations”, such as community grain storage facilities or the appearance of an experiment station except insofar as farmers may make individual use of such facilities.

2.2.1. Irrigation

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