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Mainstay Of The Indian Economy Economics Essay

1 Introduction

Agriculture is the mainstay of the Indian economy because of its high share in employment and livelihood creation. It is also an important source of raw material and demand for many industrial products, particularly fertilizers, pesticides, agricultural implements and a variety of consumer goods. Agriculture is the means of livelihood for around two thirds of the work force of India. This makes it one of the most important sectors of the economy. At the time of independence, the revenue from the agricultural sector was quite low compared to what it is today. The main reason for the increase in revenue is the increase in agricultural production that was brought about by the Green Revolution.Department of Agriculture and Cooperation under the Ministry of Agriculture is the nodal organisation responsible for development of the agriculture sector. It is responsible for formulation and implementation of national policies and programmes aimed at achieving rapid agricultural growth through optimum utilization of land, water, soil and plant resources of the country. Agriculture being a State subject, it is the responsibility of the State Governments to ensure growth and development of the sector within their respective State. Accordingly, separate departments have been set up in several States.

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Several significant initiatives have been taken in recent years by the Government Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), National Policy For Farmers, 2007 Expansion of Institutional Credit to Farmers, National Rural Health Mission, National Food Security Mission, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana to incentivise the states to invest more in agriculture, Integrated Food Law, Legislative Framework for Warehousing Development and Regulation, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPVFR) Act, 2001, National Bamboo Mission, etc.

The rapid growth of agriculture is essential not only for self-reliance but also for meeting the food and nutritional security of the people, to bring about equitable distribution of income and wealth in rural areas as well as to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life. Growth in agriculture has a maximum cascading impact on other sectors, leading to the spread of benefits over the entire economy and the largest segment of population. The Green Revolution of the 70’s was responsible for bringing additional area under cultivation, extending irrigation facilities, providing better quality seeds, improving techniques of farming and plant protection. The services enhanced by the Green Revolution in the agriculture sector of Indian economy are as follows:

Acquiring more area for cultivation purposes

Expanding irrigation facilities

Use of improved and advanced high-yielding variety of seeds

Implementing better techniques that emerged from agriculture research

Water management

Plan protection activities through prudent use of fertilizers, pesticides, and cropping applications.


After studying this unit, you will be able to

explain about agricultural sector in India

define the products and services of Institutional banking in agriculture sector

explain roles of DFI in the agricultural sector

explain the regulations

describe the challenges in financing agriculture

8.2 Agricultural sector in India

Things are looking bright in the current year with a relative good monsoon and the agriculture sector is expected to grow at 5.4% as per the 2010-11 advance estimates (AE). There is a marked improvement in the gross capital formation (GCF) also in agriculture sector.” This has been observed by the Economic Survey presented in the Lok Sabha today by the Ex Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee. Underlining the importance of the agricultural sector in the Indian Economy, the Survey says that the agriculture sector needs to grow at 8.5% during 2011-12 to achieve the Plan target of average 4 per cent growth per year.

The Survey points out that the Increased Minimum Support Price (MSP) along with various other steps taken by the Government has resulted in higher levels of food-grains. While the economic cost of wheat and rice has continuously gone up, the issue price has been kept unchanged since 1st July, 2002. The country has made great strides towards increasing food grains production. In spite of that, the agriculture sector is at a cross roads with rising demand for food items and relatively slower supply response in many commodities resulting frequent spikes in food inflation.

The Survey says that increasing agriculture production and productivity is a necessary condition not only for ensuring national food security but also for sustaining the high levels of growth. Concerted and focused efforts are required for addressing the challenge of stagnating productivity levels in agriculture. It suggests a holistic approach, including renewed agricultural research, dissemination of technology, better inputs such as quality seeds, fertilizers and modern irrigation facilities. Especially rice and wheat, the Survey says that given the constraints in area expansion there is a need for further research to boost production and productivity. Similarly, a technological breakthrough in pulse production is necessary to keep pace with rising demand. Significant increase in the area under sugarcane and cotton suggests some shift in the cropping pattern in Kharif 2010, the Survey observes.

Expressing concern over stagnation of capital investment in the sector, it says both private and public sector should enhance the investment in agriculture sector in a sustained way. A targeted development of rain fed area should be prioritized and effective marketing links should be ensured for better returns to the farmers. The Government should also encourage in food processing, cold chain and handling and packaging of processed food, the Survey says.

Taking a note of declining per capita availability of food grains, the Survey suggests thrust on horticulture products. In view of increasing pressure on livestock products due to rising level of income, a long term strategy should be evolved to increase the production of these items. It also says that the issue of efficient food stocks management of and uploading of stocks in time needs urgent attention.


The Indian government also set up Ministry of Food Processing Industries to stimulate the agriculture sector of Indian economy and make it more lucrative. India’s agriculture sector highly depends upon the monsoon season as heavy rainfall during the time leads to a rich harvest. But the entire year’s agriculture cannot possibly depend upon only one season. Taking into account this fact, a second Green Revolution is likely to be formed to overcome such restrictions. An increase in the growth rate and irrigation area, improved water management, improving the soil quality, and diversifying into high value outputs, fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, medicinal plants, and bio-diesel are also on the list of the services to be taken by the Green Revolution to improve the agriculture in India.

Agriculture in India is a major economic sector and it creates plenty of employment opportunities as well. India agriculture has an extensive background which goes back to 10 thousand years. At present, in terms of agricultural production, the country holds the second position all over the world. Regardless of the fact that there has been a gradual slump in its contribution to the gross domestic product of the country, India agriculture is currently the biggest industry in India. On the whole, it has a key role in the socioeconomic growth of the country. In terms of agricultural contribution, the following states in India are the most developed states


Uttar Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh



Andhra Pradesh


West Bengal

The total arable territory in India is 1,269,219 km2, which represents about 56.78% of the overall land zone of the country. Arable land in India is diminishing because of continuous strain from an ever-increasing number of inhabitants and growing urbanization.

The overall water surface area of the country is 31440 km2 and the country experiences a mean yearly precipitation of 1,100 mm. Irrigation represents 92% of the consumption of water and in 1974, it was 380 km2. By 2025, the capacity will probably increase to 1,050 km2, with the equilibrium justifying both household and industrial usage.

In a huge country like India, the necessary extent of outlay for the expansion of merchandising, warehousing, and cold storage arrangement is expected to be massive.

The Government of India has been earnestly trying to put into operation different plans to increase investment or outlay in merchandizing and commercializing. Some of the known plans and strategies of the Indian Government include the following:

Market Research and Information Network

Construction of Rural Godowns

Grading and Standardization

Development/Strengthening of Agricultural Marketing Infrastructure

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is the principal authority in farming and ancillary industries, which comprise learning and research. India enjoys the second position all over the world in terms of agricultural production. During the period of 2009-10, farming and associated industries such as lumbering, forestry, and fishing represented approximately 15.7% of the Gross Domestic Product of the country. These industries also recruited 52.1% of the overall manpower of India. Outputs on a unitary basis for every type of harvest have increased from 1950. This has been possible since the government has put particular focus on farming operations in the five-year plans (Panchabarshiki Parikalpana) and stable developments in the domains of engineering science, irrigation, implementation of contemporary farming operations, and supply of cultivation loans and grants after the Green Revolution took place in the country.


8.3 Products and Services

Going forward into 2012-13, assuming a normal monsoon, agricultural growth could stay close to the trend level. Industry is expected to perform better than in last year as leading indicators of industry suggest a turnaround in IIP growth. The global outlook also looks slightly better than expected earlier. Overall, the domestic growth outlook for 2012-13 looks a little better than in 2011-12. Accordingly, the baseline GDP growth for 2012-13 is projected at 7.3 per cent

Source: http://rbi.org.in/scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=7136&Mode=0

The Study commissioned by the World Bank, reviews the performance of Indian financial institutions in providing services tot he rural poor and examines the key issues facing policy makers and institutions as the country moves forward on financial sector reforms. The study posits two sets of causal variables for institutional performance: (i) Internal Practices Attitudes (IPA’s); and (ii) mechanisms for client interface that either enhance or thwart access by the rural poor and women (MEAs). Both of these variables are largely within the control of the financial institutions. The study sought to identify changes in these variables that could improve access to financial services by the rural poor. The authors conclude, however that rural financial institutions are faced with a hierarchy of constraints, largely beyond their control, and any attempt at developing workable and sustainable approaches to improved access of the rural poor to financial services will need to address a whole range of macro-policy issues including depoliticisation, ownership and governance in addition to regulatory issues.


Scheduled commercial banks (SCBs) having shortfall in lending to priority sector/subsectors vis-avis the stipulated targets, will be required to contribute to the corpus of Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) and similar funds set up with National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) / Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) / National Housing Bank (NHB). The corpus of such funds is announced every year by the Government of India and they provide the following products and services to the agri sector.

The Union Budget 2011-12 announced to set up RIDF XVII (corpus of Rs.18,000 crore of which Rs.2,000 crore will be dedicated to creation of warehousing facilities), Short Term Co-operative Rural Credit (STCRC) (Refinance) Fund (corpus of Rs.10,000 crore), Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) (Refinance) Fund (corpus of Rs.5,000 crore), and Rural Housing Fund (corpus of Rs.3,000 crore) with NABARD, SIDBI, NHB, respectively during the year. The Government had announced a target of Rs.3,75,000 crore for flow of agricultural credit in 2010- 11, of which 119 per cent had been achieved by end- March, 2011(provisional) by banks including cooperative banks and regional rural banks (RRBs). The target for the year 2011-12 is Rs.4, 75,000 crore for disbursement to agriculture by all agencies. Banks have been advised to step up direct lending to agriculture and credit to small and marginal farmers.

For the year 2010-11, the Government lowered the rate of interest subvention for short-term production credit up to Rs.3 lakh to 1.5 per cent while the additional interest subvention for prompt paying farmers was raised to 2 per cent; accordingly the effective interest rate charged to such farmers is likely to come down to 5 per cent per annum.

As per the reimbursement schedule for Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme, the Government of India released the 3rd instalment of Rs.11, 340 crore in January 2011 of which Rs.1,240 crore was passed on to NABARD for reimbursement to RRBs and co-operatives and the remainder amount (Rs.10,100 crore) was utilised for reimbursing SCBs, local area banks (LABs) and urban cooperative banks (UCBs)


NABARD Consultancy Services (Nabcons) is a wholly owned subsidiary promoted by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and is engaged in providing consultancy in all spheres of agriculture, rural development and allied areas. Nabcons leverages on the core competence of the NABARD in the areas of agricultural and rural development, especially multidisciplinary projects, banking, institutional development, infrastructure, training, etc., internalized for more than two decades.   The Company is registered under the Company’s Act, 1956, with an authorized capital of Rs 250 million (US $5.75 million) and paid up capital of Rs 50 million (US $1.15 million).   In tune with NABARD’s mission to bring about rural prosperity, Nabcons has more than just commercial interest in the assignments it undertakes.


Scheme for setting up of Agriclinic and Agribusiness centers:

With the diversification and modernisation of agricultural practices, there is a need to augment support and extension services for agriculture.  For this purpose, a scheme for setting up agriclinics and agribusiness centres by agriculture graduates has been launched by GoI with the support of NABARD.  These centres will provide a package of input  facilities,  consultancy and other services.  They will strengthen transfer of technology and extension services and also provide self employment opportunities to technically trained persons. MANAGE is the nodal agency for imparting training under the scheme. List of trained graduates is sent to various banks in the region for financial assistance. As on 31.7.2005, 8364 agri graduates have received the training and 1988 ACABC units have been set up across the country.


NABARD Financial Services Limited, [NABFINS] is a subsidiary of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) with equity participation from NABARD, Government of Karnataka, Canara Bank, Union Bank of India, Dhanalakshmi Bank and Federal Bank. It is a non-deposit taking NBFC registered with the Reserve Bank of India and  shall operate throughout India.  The main objectives of the Company are to provide financial services in two broad areas of agriculture and microfinance. NABFINS provides credit and other facilities  for  promotion, expansion, commercialization and modernization of agriculture and allied activities. NABFINS shall engage in the business of providing micro finance services (with or without thrift) and other facilities to needy and disadvantageous sections of the society for securing their prosperity in both rural and urban areas.

NABARD, which is the world renowned apex development bank of our country and pioneered the world’s largest microfinance movement,  while promoting NABFINS has envisaged that NABFINS shall evolve into a Model Microfinance Institution to set standards of governance among the MFIs,  operate with exemplary levels of transparency and operate at reasonable / moderate rates of interest.


NABARD supports initiatives in Natural Resource Management and has developed unique models in the process which have become bench marks in their respective fields. To this effect, the Development Policy Department – Farm Sector’s Core Business is to provide policy and promotional support for various farm sector initiatives aimed at accelerating ground level credit flow by rural credit agencies for various farm related activities under investment credit with a view to increasing agricultural production and productivity, generating rural employment, and raising the standard of living of rural poor through credit and grant. In addition, with the objective of facilitating sustainable and equitable development in the rural sector, the department supports initiatives in Natural Resource Management for implementation of development models.

Policy related interventions

• Policy support for Farm Sector in areas such as Agri-business, Agri-marketing, Agriculture Insurance and Agriculture Distress Management

• Sectoral Policy support such as Farm Mechanization, Land Purchase, ACABC Scheme etc

• Investments

Natural Resource Management

• Participatory Watershed Development Programme (Indo-German Watershed Development Programme in Maharashtra, Gujarat & Andhra Pradesh and Watershed Development through Watershed Development Fund)

• Kutch Drought Proofing Project (KDPP)

• Wadi based Livelihood Development

Funds for Development Projects

Farmers’ Technology Transfer Fund (FTTF)

Watershed Development Fund (WDF)

Tribal Development Fund (TDF)

Farm Innovation and Promotion Fund (FIPF)

Investment Credit (Medium and Long Term) Refinance with a mission of Accelerating Private Capital Formation to Promote Sustainable and Equitable Agriculture and Rural Prosperity with Refinance as Lever. NABARD has formulated a Model scheme for issue of Kisan Credit Cards to farmers, on the basis of their land holdings, for uniform adoption by banks, so that the farmers may use them to readily purchase agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, etc. and also draw cash for their production needs. Farmers have to get in touch with Authorised banks to use this facility

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A Research and Development Fund has been established by the bank with the objective of acquiring new insights into the problems of agricultural and rural development through in-depth studies and applied research and trying out innovative approaches backed up by technical and economic studies. It includes facilities for training, dissemination of information and promotion of research by undertaking studies techno-economic and other surveys in the fields of agriculture, rural banking and rural development. The eligible Institutes for the fund are Approved research institutions, organisations and other agencies which are engaged in action-oriented, applied research, Individuals or groups of individuals would also be extended assistance provided they are sponsored by suitable organisations which would certify the proper use and accounting of funds, Private and commercial organisations are not normally eligible for assistance under the this fund.

SWAROJGAR CREDIT CARD SCHEME aims at providing adequate and timely credit i.e. working capital or block capital or both to small artisans, handloom weavers, service sector, fishermen, self employed persons, rickshaw owners, other micro-entrepreneurs, SHGs, etc from the banking system in a flexible, hassle free and cost effective manner. Borrowers in urban areas can be covered under SCC Scheme. Small business covered under priority sector is also eligible under SCC Scheme. Any scheme/project that are income generating/ employment generating may be covered under the scheme. The facility may also include a reasonable component for consumption needs. Farm sector activities like fisheries, dairy, etc. can also be covered under the scheme. Generally such of the self-employment activities which have regular turn over/income stream on short-interval basis can be covered under SCC scheme. SCC is a credit delivery mode and not a purpose. Coverage of SCC will not make a unit ineligible for subsidy. Banks can issue SCCs to target borrowers of SCC scheme for disbursing credit under any schemes whether they are covered under subsidy or not.

Farmers’ Club Programme is a grassroots level informal forum. Such Clubs are organised by rural branches of banks with the support and financial assistance of NABARD for the mutual benefit of the banks concerned and rural people. The broad functions being to coordinate with banks to ensure credit flow among its members and forge better bank borrower relationship

NABARD Consultancy Services (Nabcons) is engaged in providing consultancy in all spheres of agriculture, rural development and allied areas. Nabcons leverages on the core competence of the NABARD in the areas of agricultural and rural development, especially multidisciplinary projects, banking, institutional development, infrastructure, training, etc., internalized for more than two decades.

Water Harvesting Scheme is for the SC / ST Farmers with main objective of the scheme is to cover SC/ST farmers in providing irrigation facilities to their homesteads / farmlands. In order to augment the income generating capacity of these SC/ST farmers suitable local water-harvesting structures are proposed along with provision for small lifting devices on a nationwide scale. Freshwater aquaculture wherever feasible can also be taken up as per the choice of farmers


Self-Assessment Questions

State True/false

1. Nabcons leverages on the core competence of the NABARD in the areas of agricultural and rural development, especially multidisciplinary projects, banking, institutional development, infrastructure, training, etc.

2. Development Policy Department connected with Farm Sector`s is not providing policy and promotional support for various farm sector initiatives.

Fill in the blanks

______ __________ _________ is a grassroots level informal forum.

_________ _______Refinance with a mission of Accelerating Private Capital Formation to Promote Sustainable and Equitable Agriculture and Rural Prosperity with Refinance as Lever.

Role of DFIs in Agricultural Sector

Development Financial Institutions plays an important role in connection with agricultural sector which are as follows.

To assess the progress made in implementation of the recommendations of the Expert Committee on Rural Credit (Vyas Committee) appointed by NABARD in August 2000;

To suggest measures to reduce the rate of interest on agriculture credit given by Commercial, Co-operative and Regional Rural Banks;

To examine the role of NABARD as the apex institution for providing and regulating credit for the promotion and development of agriculture and the role of Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) in purveying agricultural credit and suggest measures for improving the same without sacrificing overall viability considerations;

To study the role and effectiveness of the RIDF mechanism and suggest ways to improve the same, or to suggest alternatives, with a view to increase direct agriculture lending;

To identify the impediments in the flow of credit to the disadvantaged sections such as small and marginal farmers, tenant farmers, oral lessees and landless labourers and suggest measures to be taken by banks for providing financial assistance to them;

To suggest short-term and medium-term measures to improve the flow of credit to agriculture, with particular emphasis on

direct financing of farmers based on linkages for supply of inputs and sale of outputs and institutional and procedural arrangements required therefor;

scope for involving innovative location-specific catalytic agents to bridge the gap between the demand and supply of timely credit in rural areas;

the problems faced by banks in extending their outreach;

the need to modify the Service Area Approach; and

feasibility for harnessing new technological developments in smoothening the process of credit delivery to the rural and agricultural sector

To study the role of micro finance in poverty alleviation and adoption of the Self-Help Group (SHG) approach in extending banks’ outreach to the disadvantaged sectors.

To examine the need to regulate microfinance institutions and to suggest appropriate regulatory model.

To examine the norms relating to NPAs in cases of crop failure where there are seasonality and uncertainty.


8.5 Regulations

RBI regulation over DFIs

Whenever a bank emerges on the Indian scene, it automatically gets covered under RBI’s regulatory framework in terms of BR Act, 1949. In respect of NBIs it is observed that two types have emerged on the Indian scene. The first comprises the statutory FIs set up under their respective statute. The second type comprises the FIs that are set up as companies under Companies Act, 1956, and hence, by definition, are NBFCs. Since the 1997 amendment to the Chapter IIIB of RBI Act, 1934 all NBFCs have to adhere to the provisions of the Chapter IIIB and the guidelines issued by RBI there under unless specifically exempted from doing so by RBI. In regard to the FIs established under the statute, over which RBI has been given enabling powers under the RBI Act, 1934, RBI has been using its discretion in deciding which of the FIs are to be regulated and supervised. The entity wise decisions so far taken in this regard appear to have been taken on a case to case basis. At present RBI regulates and supervises only nine select DFIs, viz., IDBI, IFCI Ltd. TFCI Ltd., IDFC Ltd., IIBI Ltd., EXIM Bank, NABARD, NHB and SIDBI. Of these, IFCI Ltd. TFCI Ltd., IDFC Ltd. and IIBI Ltd., being companies, are, by definition, NBFCs. As stated in para. 4.2.2, they continue to be regulated and supervised by RBI as DFIs.

In this connection, it is also noted that under the provisions of RBI Act, 1934, only NBFCs are required to get registered with RBI. There is no provision for similar registration with RBI of the FIs established by statute. On account of this it is possible that, at any given time, RBI may not be formally notified with regard to all FIs established by statute.

As mentioned above, there remain four all India DFIs established by statute viz., EXIM Bank and three Refinancing Institutions – NABARD, SIDBI and NHB for consideration by the WG. It is observed that these four institutions will continue to function as DFIs. As these institutions also act as instruments of public policy, the WG is of the view that Central Government should oversee their functions arising out of such public policy. However, considering the systemic significance of these institutions and their linkages with other financial intermediaries, the WG recommends that RBI may continue to regulate these four institutions, purely from the considerations of systemic stability irrespective of whether they accept public deposits or not. It is also observed that RBI has ownership interest in NABARD and NHB. As there is a scope for a conflict of ownership and regulatory / supervisory interests, the WG recommends that the RBI may divest its stakes in these two institutions.

To varying degrees NABARD, SIDBI and NHB also shoulder responsibilities of regulating and / or supervising the financial intermediaries falling under their respective domains – Housing Finance Companies in the case of NHB, SFCs and SIDCs in the case of SIDBI, and State Co-operative Banks, District Central Co-operative Banks and Regional Rural Banks in the case of NABARD. RBI, however, may have to ensure that the standard of regulation and / or supervision exercised by the NHB, SIDBI and NABARD over the institutions falling under their respective domains is broadly at par with that maintained by RBI.

8.6 Challenges

The world is increasingly facing global challenges such as climate change, financial crises, food and oil price swings, security threats, etc. They increasingly affect the prospects of developing countries, yet the current thinking on development assistance is often rooted in national development plans. Research is needed to understand how aid and non-aid measures can help to address global challenges which are increasingly affecting developing countries.

The research will cover the following conceptual and empirical areas:

review the nature of global challenges and pathways through which they affect development;

sketch out the roles for public and private sector DFIs in overcoming these global challenges (what market failures do they address, what blend of instruments can they use in which situations);

Map out pathways for how DFIs can address global challenges, resulting in a broad metrics for analysing the effectiveness of the DFIs in overcoming global challenges (e.g. effect on growth, investment for dealing with the crisis; effect on energy efficiency for climate change; promoting employment in conflict affected areas).

review evaluation studies on DFIs;

examine empirically the macro effects of DFIs, e.g. on growth, productivity and energy efficiency (i.e. to overcome negative growth and investment effects of financial crises, and to overcome climate change by improving energy efficiency);

The Reserve Bank of India on Tuesday expressed apprehension about pressure on agricultural loans given out to farmers this year, due to looming drought in several states, but said the country’s banks are resilient enough to face it.

The assurance by RBI Deputy Governor K C Chakrabarty is expected to soothe fraying nerves of bankers and banking stocks that plunged last week, soon after the government announced 2012 will be a drought year.

According to RBI data, banks have about Rs 5, 30,000 crore outstanding agricultural loans at stake as of June 29. They fear default in farm loans would increase, leading to higher provisioning in coming quarters. “Whenever there is drought, there is a pressure on farm loans. But we have sufficient rehabilitation measures. The

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