Despite feeding a growing population of almost 1.1 billion people India is a net exporter of food.
Value billion Euro 2007-08
% of Total Trade Value
The share of agricultural exports vs. total export value since 1990 peaked in 1996-97 with 20.33% and a value of €4.0 billion. The estimate 2008-09 stands at an agriculture share of total export value of 10.23% but with a value of €14.24 billion.
In 1983 Agriculture employed 63% of the population and generated 39% of the national GDP. In 2009 this had shrunk to respectively 52% and 17%. Average per capita farm incomes have declined when compared to other sectors. But because the start of the 21st century India's GDP has been growing at approximately 8% year on year actual farm incomes have not declined despite a lower share in the national GDP.
Agriculture production value billion Euro (2002):
Production value in billion Euro
Share State GDP %
The 3 top main food staples producers :
- Rice : West Bengal, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh
- Wheat : Uttar Pradesh, Pujab, Haryana
- Maize : Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka
- Soybean : Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan
Yield Improvement Foodgrains :
Area million hect.
Production / mln ton
Yield improvement since 1951Rice
- Acreage : + 40% = 42.2 million hectare
- Production : + 300% = 87 million tonnes
- Yield per hectare : +200% = 2,000 kg/hectare.Wheat
- Acreage : + 200% = 26.3 mln hectare
- Production : + 12 fold = 72 mln tonnes
- Yield per hectare : +300% = 2,700 kg/hectare.Cereals
- Acreage : -18.5% = 31 mln hectare
- Production : + 150% = 38 mln tonnes
- Yield per hectare : +200% = 1,228 kg/hectare.Corn
- Acreage : +100% = 7.4 mln hectare
- Production : + 750% = 15 mln tonnes
- Yield per hectare : +260% = 2,000 kg/hectare.
With 184 million hectares of arable land India ranks 2nd only after the USA.
These figures are impressive but yield per hectare is in most cases still very low. Of the top 15 world producers for rice India stands at 12th place. For wheat India stands at 9th place, still above the USA but achieving a yield per hectare of only 40% vs. the UK. For corn India ranks 14th and achieves only 21% of the yield generated in the USA.
The improved production results are largely due to a strongly increased use of fertilizers. In 1951 the total use was 65,000 tonnes. In 1980 this stood at 5.5 million tonnes. In 2003 16 million tonnes of fertilizer was used (which is actually a downtrend already since 1997). An enormous increase but in use per hectare in Asia India ranks only 7th in the top ten, just slightly above North Korea with a total of 106 kg/hectare (the highest in the world is the Netherlands with over 500kg/hectare). In Asia India ranks 2nd after China (50%) in total use of fertilizer.
The most important factor ensuring a strong growth of the Indian agricultural industry is the increase in size of holdings. 15 years ago 60% of all land was held by small holdings of less than 1 hectare and only 1.6% was held by large holdings i.e. 10+ hectares. Only 5 years later these figures were almost at par. Small holdings had decreased until only 17% and large holdings had increased to 15%. To date large and medium size holdings (4-10 hectares) represent the bulk of Indian food production.
Rajasthan is the state with the most large holdings (500,000, exploiting over 9.0 million hectares) whereas Uttar Pradesh is the state with the most marginal landholdings (16 million, exploiting 6.0 million hectares).
This trend to more and larger holdings will ensure more efficiency and economies of scale and a higher yield per measured unit.Livestock
India ranks also in livestock and animal products in the world's top producers.Livestock in millions (2003)
India share %
Between 1950 and 2003 chickens (x6.65), pigs (x3.07) and (goats (x2.64) have had the fastest growing populations in India.Animal products (2007-08)
Milk (mln MT)
Meat (mln MT)
India is also a major meat producer despite the fact that the majority of Indians is to some extend vegetarian.
Fishery is becoming also a major industry (mln tonnes):
The top 7 fish producing states are ('000 tonnes – 2007-08):
Marine fish catches are much higher in the west coast states, bordering the Arabian Sea than in the east coast states, bordering the Indian Ocean.
The Indian agricultural industry has made impressive gains since the 1990’s however still has enormous scope for growth. The number of marginal landholders is still large and holdings of over 10 hectares are already considered large whereas in countries with a more mature agricultural industry this will be considered medium sized at best.
India's largest producer of crops, Uttar Pradesh, is also the state with the largest number of small landholdings were the average size per farm is only 0.4 hectare.
Milk and egg production also still have sufficient potential for growth in case better and more storing equipment can be employed.
Conditions for increased growth :
- Increase larger landholdings
- Increase use fertilizers
- Improvement Food Processing infrastructure and -quality.Note: Foreign investors in the food industry in India have to take extreme care with labelling their products either or not vegetarian. In case labeled as vegetarian it is vital that all ingredients are tested on their composition, even the smallest element, to ensure that all ingredients are of vegetarian origin and prepared with only vegetarian elements. Also, in case of precooked meals, no animal fat can be used during preparation. The slightest doubt and accusation will ensure immediate action by the Indian government in completely shutting down the operation as well as sales until the matter has been cleared.Source tables: Ministry of Agriculture of India