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History

Origin of Agriculture
The beginning of 'agro' or 'agriculture' marks the beginning of 'civilized' or 'sedentary' society. Climate change and increase in population during the Holocene Era (10,000 BC onwards) led to the evolution of agriculture. During the Bronze Age (9000 BC onwards), domestication of plants and animals transformed the profession of the early homo sapiens from hunting and gathering to selective hunting, herding and finally to settled agriculture. Eventually the agricultural practices enabled people to establish permanent settlements and expand urban based societies. Cultivation marks the transition from nomadic pre-historic societies to the settled neolithic lifestyle some time around 7000 BC.

As per the modern definition of agriculture which would be" an aggregate of large scale intensive cultivation of land, mono-cropping, organized irrigation, and use of a specialized labor force", the title "inventors of agriculture" would go to the Sumerians, starting ca. 5,500 BC.
 
Technological Evolution

  • Originally fields were cleared of weeds and prepared for planting by hand at great effort, using primitive hoes or digging sticks

  • The invention of the scratch plow (also called 'plough') about 6,000 years ago was a great labor-saving device for humans - the beginning of systematic substitution of other forms of energy, in this case animal power, for human muscles
  • The Muslim Farmers in North Africa and the Near East of the Medieval world are credited with inventions of extensive irrigation based on hydraulic and hydrostatic principles such as norias, water mills, water raising machines, dams and reservoirs
  • The Renaissance saw the innovation of the three field system of crop rotation and wide spread usage of the moldboard plow

  • The early phase of Industrial Revolution witnessed new agricultural practices like enclosure, mechanization, four-field crop rotation and selective breeding

  • The science-driven innovations of 19th and 20th centuries led to the mechanization of the cultivation, i.e. the use of tractors.
   
Agriculture in India
Agriculture in India, the preeminent sector of the economy, is the source of livelihood of almost two thirds of the workforce in the country. The contribution of agriculture and allied activities to India's economic growth in recent years has been no less significant than that of industry and services. The importance of agriculture to the country is best summed up by this statement: "If agriculture survives, India survives".
 
Indian Agriculture--Water-Management

Indian agricultural production in most parts of the country is closely related to skillful and wise water-management practices. Most of the agricultural practices in India confined to the few monsoon months. During the monsoon season, India is usually endowed with generous rainfall; although not infrequently, this bountiful monsoon turns into a terror, causing uncontrollable floods in parts of the country. In a matter of antithesis, every few years, the monsoon is erratic and deficient, leading to drought and the possibility of famine. This explains the inextricable link between Indian Agriculture and effective water-management practices known across different parts of India since the ancient times.

According to the history of the Indian agriculture water-management practices are known to have either been taken up by the state, or by local village communities since the earliest times. Regional rulers, or local representatives of the state were generally obliged to allocate a certain percentage of the agricultural taxes on building and managing water-storage, water-harvesting and/or water-diverting structures which facilitated a second crop, and provided water for drinking and other purposes in the long dry season.
The British rule witnessed the destruction of century-old water management structures and a virtual wreckage of the knowledge systems and cultural traditions that had helped build and preserve these water-management techniques over the centuries in states such as Bihar, Bengal, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and others. Owing to this, during the colonial era, famines were frequent and famine commissions were abundant. The growth rate in food production during the 1900-1947 period was hardly 0.1 per cent. Most of the important institutional developments in agriculture emanated from the recommendations of famine commissions. The great Bengal Famine of 1942-43 provided the backdrop to India’s Independence.

The stagnant performance of agriculture in India during the colonial period was turned into a sustained growth since 1947, with a stronger performance in India especially in terms of per-capita food production.
 
 
Indian Agriculture in Independent India
 
Early Years of Independence
The early years of Independence witnessed accentuation on the development of infrastructure for scientific agriculture. The steps taken included the establishment of fertilizer and pesticide factories, construction of large multi-purpose irrigation-cum-power projects, organization of community development and national extension programmes and, above all, the starting of agricultural universities as well as new agricultural research institutions across the length and breadth of the country. However, the growth in food production was inadequate to meet the consumption needs of the growing population which necessitated food imports.
 
Green Revolution
Policy makers and planners, in order to address the concerns about national independence, security, and political stability realized that self-sufficiency in food production was an absolute prerequisite. This perception led to a program of agricultural improvement called the Intensive Agriculture District Programme (IADP) and eventually to the Green Revolution. The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) was set up. All these steps led to a quantum jump in the productivity and production of crops.
 
 
White and Yellow Revolution
The Green revolution generated a mood of self-confidence in our agricultural capability, which led to the next phase characterized by the Technology Mission. Under this approach, the focus was on conservation, cultivation, consumption, and commerce. An end-to-end approach was introduced involving attention to all links in the production-consumption chain, owing to which progress was steady and sometimes striking as in the case of milk and egg production.
 
Present Times
Indian agriculture continues to face internal and external challenges. While monsoon dependence, fragmented land-holding, low level of input usage, antiquated agronomic practices, lack of technology application and poor rural infrastructure are some of the key internal constraints that deter a healthy growth, while subsidies and barriers have been distorting international agricultural trade, rendering agri-exports from developing nations such as India uncompetitive.

The objective of every policy initiative has been to make Indian agriculture globally competitive — by investing it with the ability to produce globally acceptable quality at globally comparable cost.
 
 
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