Indian agriculture is presently at the crossroads in more than one sense. The share of agriculture in the GDP has been shrinking and has reached about 15 per cent, while it continues to provide livelihood support to more than two-thirds of the rural population. The slowdown in performance of the sector in the recent years is a cause for concern in the overall agenda for food and income security. More than 80 per cent of the farmers, mostly with marginal and small holdings, depend on agriculture as the primary activity and are highly vulnerable to multiple risks. The escalating cost of production and unremunerative and often volatile output prices have raised questions of viability of farming as a livelihood activity.Several factors have contributed to the imbalance, of which the low agricultural productivity and its stagnation are notable. Among the supply side factors, declining factor productivity, degradation of soil and water resources due to intensive agriculture, inequitable access to input and imperfection in output market are prominent. The problem of lack of appropriate technology especially for vast areas of dryland and rainfed farming, the persistence of inadequate infrastructure and declining public investment have brought to the fore the issue of sustainability of agriculture. These are the areas of main focus of the contributions in the book. Besides helping in understanding the present state of Indian agriculture, the contributions in the book are expected to help evolve appropriate policy approaches.
K. Suman Chandra is Professor & Head, Centre for Agrarian Studies and Disaster Mitigation, National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD), Hyderabad. His areas of specialisation include agrarian reforms in general and tenancy reforms in particular. A sociologist by training, he has extensive field work experience which served as the basis for training rural development functionaries over the last two decades. To his credit there are four books and several articles published in reputed journals.V. Suresh Babu is Assistant Professor, Centre for Agrarian Studies and Disaster Mitigation, NIRD, Hyderabad. His areas of research include: agriculture, agro-forestry, bio-inputs, watersheds, wage and self-employment. Dr Babu has published several papers in reputed journals.Pradip Kumar Nath is Adjunct Faculty, Centre for Agrarian Studies and Disaster Mitigation, NIRD, Hyderabad. Presently, he is actively engaged in research and training in the areas of disaster mitigation and agrarian issues. Trained in economics, he has to his credit few publications on regional disparity, folklore, and issues related to marginalised communities (SC & ST).