Title: India. A drive towards self-sufficiency in food grains
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00085389/00001
 Material Information
Title: India. A drive towards self-sufficiency in food grains
Physical Description: Book
Creator: Sarma, J. S.
Publisher: International Food Policy Research Institute,
Copyright Date: 1978
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00085389
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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Resource Identifier: 28231393 - OCLC

Full Text

India-A Drive
Towards Self-Sufficiency
in Food Grains

J. S. Sarma

Reprinted from the
American Journal of Agricultural Economics
Vol. 60, No. 5, December 1978

S :

860 December 1978

Million Tons








Million Tons








Amer. J. Agr. Econ.


Kgs Per Annum
175 -1

1950 55 60 65 70
Figure 1A. Food grains production-India 1949-50 to 1976-77
Figure 1B. Net production and net availability of food grains-India 1950 to 1977
Figure 1C. Per capital availability of food grains-India 1950 to 1977

75 1977

within the country cannot be the reason for the
decline; for, during this period, the stocks with
the government went up from 2.73 million tons
at the beginning of 1975 to 17.36 million tons at
the end of 1977.
The National Commission on Agriculture
compared the estimated increase in the de-
mand for food grains based on changes in pop-
ulation, per capital income, and relative prices
during the period 1960-62 to 1970-72 with the
actual increase in consumption and found that
these two sets of figures were consistent. The
effect of increase in income has been very
nearly offset by the rise in prices with the
result that the per capital consumption in
1970-72 was only marginally higher than that
in 1960-62. Extending the method used by the
National Commission on Agriculture to the
period 1975-77, and comparing it with the rel-
evant data for 1970-72, we find that between
these two periods, the average population went
up by 10.6% and the per capital income by

2.9%, while the index number of food grain
prices relative to all commodity prices de-
clined by 4.6%. The composite effect of these
changes should have been to raise the average
consumption by 13.8%, whereas it rose by
only 3.8%. This difference is too large, and
indicates that the estimated demand and actual
availability were not in balance.
Taking the two years 1975 and 1976 to-
gether, during which accumulation of govern-
ment stocks took place to the extent of 15.83
million tons, the net imports were 13.83 mil-
lion tons; thus, the net accumulation of stocks
from domestic production was 2 million tons.
Even this might represent a part of the transfer
of stocks from nongovernment to government
hands arising from the comfortable food situa-
tion. Taking the provisional figures for 1977
also, the change in stocks over the period
1975-77 was 14.63 million tons and the net
imports were 14.31 million tons. Since these
two almost tally with each other, the average


Table 1. Net Availability of Cereals and Pulses, 1950-1977

Per Capita Net Availability
Cereals Pulses Per Year
Net Change in Net Net
Population Production Net Imports Government Stocks Availability Availability Cereals Pulses Total
Year (millions) (million tons) (million tons) (million tons) (million tons) (million tons) (kg per annum)
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10)
1950 357.3 A A' 2.16 n.a. 46.57 8.78 130.3 24.6 154.9
1951 363.2 40.09 4.08 + 0.59 44.30 8.05 122.0 22.1 144.1
1952 369.3 40.67 3.93 + 0.62 43.98 7.98 119.1 21.6 140.7
1953 375.6 45.46 2.04 0.48 47.97 8.61 127.7 22.9 150.6
1954 382.4 53.55 0.83 + 0.20 54.19 9.73 141.7 25.4 167.1
1955 389.7 51.70 0.60 0.74 53.05 10.11 136.1 25.9 162.0
1956 397.3 50.43 1.39 0.60 52.42 10.23 131.9 25.7 157.6
1957 405.5 52.77 3.63 + 0.86 55.54 10.63 137.0 26.2 163.2
1958 414.0 49.46 3.21 0.27 52.94 8.84 127.9 21.3 149.2
1959 423.1 57.39 3.86 + 0.49 60.75 11.56 143.6 27.3 170.9
1960 432.5 57.10 5.13 + 1.40 60.82 10.38 140.6 24.0 164.6
1961 442.4 60.89 3.49 0.17 64.55 11.14 145.9 25.2 171.1
1962 452.2 61.85 3.64 0.36 65.85 10.24 145.6 22.6 168.2
1963 462.0 60.19 4.55 0.02 64.76 10.08 140.2 21.8 162.0
1964 472.1 61.79 6.26 1.24 69.29 8.81 146.8 18.6 165.4
1965 482.5 67.33 7.45 + 1.06 73.72 10.85 152.8 22.5 175.3
1966 493.2 54.60 10.34 + 0.14 64.80 8.68 131.4 17.6 149.0
1967 504.2 57.65 8.66 0.26 66.57 7.30 132.0 14.5 146.5
1968 515.4 72.58 5.69 + 2.04 76.23 10.57 147.9 20.5 168.4
1969 527.0 73.14 3.85 + 0.46 76.53 9.09 145.2 17.3 162.5
1970 538.9 76.83 3.58 + 1.12 79.29 10.20 147.2 18.9 166.1
1971 550.8 84.53 2.03 + 2.57 83.99 10.32 152.5 18.7 171.2
1972 562.5 82.31 (-) .49 4.69 86.51 9.70 153.8 17.3 171.2
1973 574.2 76.23 3.59 0.31 80.13 8.67 139.5 15.1 154.6
1974 586.1 82.82 4.83 0.40 88.05 8.75 150.3 14.9 171.1
1975 597.9 78.59 7.39 + 5.56 80.42 8.76 134.5 14.6 149.1
1976 609.3 94.50 6.44 +10.27 90.67 11.41 148.8 18.7 167.5
1977 620.1 87.82 0.48 1.20 89.50 9.81 144.3 15.8 160.1

Sources: Bulletin of Food Statistics published by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation;
Economic Survey, 1977-78, Government of India. N.A. is Not Available; Net Availability is Net Production + net imports change in
stocks with government; Net Production = 87.5% of gross production. An allowance of 12.5% of gross production is made for seed,
livestock feed, and wastage. Because the stocks with producers and traders undergo considerable annual fluctuations, the net availability
in a given year does not represent the true consumption in that year, because the data on changes in stocks relate to those with the
government only.

Policy Changes in Selected Countries 861

862 December 1978

net domestic production during the three years
can be equated with consumption at 96.86 mil-
lion tons. Since all the available indications
such as accumulation of stocks, prices, etc.
show that the demand and supply from domes-
tic production were in balance, the discrep-
ancy between the estimated demand and ac-
tual availability based on official estimates of
production needs to be investigated.

Progress of Food Grains Production

The long-term trend in food grains production
shows an annual growth rate of 2.42% during
the period 1949-50 to 1976-77. However, var-
ious other estimates of the performance of
food grains production can be given, depend-
ing upon the period over which the growth is
assessed and the formula adopted for compu-
tation of growth. A detailed analysis of the
rates of growth during the period 1949-50 to
1973-74 shows (Mellor, p. 39): (a) an annual
increase of 2.8% (compound) between 1949-
50 and 1960-61; (b) a slowing down to 2.1%
during the period 1960-61 to 1964-65; (c) an
accelerated growth of 3.3% per annum during
1965-66 to 1970-71; and (d) stagnation in pro-
duction for several years thereafter. Food
grains production picked up again in 1975-76
when it reached the level of 121 million tons.
According to unofficial figures, the output in
1977-78 is likely to exceed 125 million tons. If
so, the rate of growth between 1960-61 to
1977-78 would work out to 2.5% per annum.
The growth in food grains production also
has been analyzed by several research work-
ers by crop and by region, and has been de-
composed into its components of area, yield,
and cropping patterns. Also, there are some
studies that analyze the factors contributing to
the growth and the role of price and nonprice
factors therein. Some of the significant con-
clusions are as follows. (a) Up to 1960-61,
area contributed more to the increase in pro-
duction than the yield. After 1960-61, nearly
four-fifths of the increase in production was
due to rising yields. (b) Yield increases in the
case of wheat were most remarkable, rising at
the rate of more than 4% per annum during the
latter period. (c) Growth rates were uneven in
different states, the lowest growth being in the
eastern states and the highest in the north-
western states. (d) Nonprice factors in-
fluenced the relative area shares of food
grains crops (Dharm Narain, p. 39).
With regard to performance in terms of pro-

Amer. J. Agr. Econ.
gram and production targets, while the food
production targets in the first two plans were
achieved, there had been consistent shortfalls
in the achievement of targets of production as
well as those of programs, e.g., major irriga-
tion and fertilizer use in the subsequent plans.
A detailed analysis of food grains production
potential for the period 1950-51 to 1973-74
broken up into two periods, 1950-51 to 1960-
61 and 1960-61 to 1973-74, showed that the
failure to achieve food grains production-
potential targets in the latter period was due to
shortfalls in the achievement of physical
targets under major and medium irrigation
programs and fertilizer consumption (Vai-
dyanathan, p. 1359).
Recent trends in food grains production do,
however, reveal certain important facts: the
food grains production graph (fig. IA) shows
that the consecutive peaks and troughs are at
successively higher levels, and that the trough
points of production in 1976-77 and 1972-73
are higher than the preceding peak points in
1970-71 and 1967-68, respectively. Further,
during the last decade, the actual levels of
production are higher than the trend values in
six out of ten years, and the average of posi-
tive deviations from the trend line is higher
than that of negative deviations. The propor-
tion of food grains production from irrigated
areas is going up. Also the proportion of the
production in the Rabi season to total has gone
up from 34% in 1966-67 to 40% in 1976-77.
These developments have some significance in
terms of overall food management in the coun-

Demand Estimates 1982-83

The five year plan 1978-83 puts the estimate of
India's population in 1983 at 697.2 million,
implying a growth rate of 1.92% per annum
over the plan period. The per capital private
consumption expenditure is assumed to grow
at 2.21% per annum consistent with a growth
of 4.7% per annum in gross domestic product
during the same period.
In estimating the demand for food grains in
1982-83, the effect of redistribution of pur-
chasing power has been taken into account for
the first time, and demand estimates have been
presented with and without redistribution as-
sumptions at 144 and 140 million tons, respec-
tively. The target of production of food grains
for 1982-83 has accordingly been fixed at 140
to 144 million tons, implying a growth rate of

Policy Changes in Selected Countries 863

3% to 3.6% per annum over the assumed base
level production of 121 million tons in 1977-

Programs under the 1978-83 Plan

The realization of the target of food grains
production is based on the following major
programs which have been provided for in the
plan in terms of financial, organizational, and
policy measures and instruments.
Irrigation. The area benefited by irrigation
schemes is proposed to be stepped up by 17
mha potential, comprising 8 mha from major
and medium schemes and 9 mha from minor
schemes for which a total allocation of 89,750
million rupees (Rs) has been made for the
years 1978-83 as compared to Rs 38,810 mil-
lion in the fifth plan. The actual utilization is
expected to be 15 mha, raising the area under
irrigation from 48 mha in 1977-78 to 63 mha in
Gross cropped area. The gross cropped area
is expected to go up by 6 mha (i.e., from 174
mha to 180 mha) largely as a result of bringing
new irrigation benefits and improvement of
irrigation on areas already irrigated.
Fertilizers. The consumption of chemical
fertilizers is proposed to be raised from 4.2
million tons of NPK in 1977-78 to 7.85 million
tons in 1982-83, comprising 5.25 million tons
of nitrogen, 1.6 million tons of phosphatic, and
1.0 million tons of potassic fertilizers. Eighty
percent of the requirement of nitrogenous fer-
tilizers and 70% of phosphatic fertilizers will
be met from indigenous production, while
provision has been made for import of the
balance of requirements including the whole of
potassic fertilizers.
Agricultural credit. The total credit avail-
able to farmers is proposed to be doubled dur-
ing the next three years, from the current level
of Rs 22,950 million comprising Rs 16,500 mil-
lion short-term, Rs 2,350 million medium-term
and Rs 4,100 million long-term credit. This is
hoped to be achieved through progressive in-
stitutionalization with a multiagency approach
and the earmarking of an increasingly larger
share for the weaker sections.
Agricultural research. The agricultural re-
search system is being reorganized and
strengthened with emphasis on operational re-
search programs. The thirty Central Research
Institutes under the Indian Council of Agricul-
tural Research, the twenty-one agricultural
universities and fifty-two All-India Coordi-

nated Research Projects are the principal
agencies through which research is being or-
ganized. The allocation for agricultural re-
search and education has been doubled from
Rs 2,100 million in the fifth plan to Rs 4,250
million in the next plan.
Extension. The Training and Visits system
of extension, already found to be effective,
is proposed to be expanded to cover larger
Land use planning and planning from be-
low. While reliance for the achievement of the
faster rate of growth is being placed on the
programs and policies briefly mentioned
above, there are two other elements referred
to in the plan, but on which adequate emphasis
has not been placed so far in the implementa-
tion stage. These are land-use planning and
planning from below in the agricultural sector.
These are crucial to the realization of the

Prospects for Self-Sufficiency

That there is potential in the country for an
accelerated development of food and agricul-
tural production is recognized. This question
also has been studied recently by the National
Commission on Agriculture which made de-
tailed recommendations, the implementation
of which will help in realizing the potential.
The policies at the macro level already have
evolved over time, and the deficiencies in the
use of irrigation water, the arrangements for
the multiplication and distribution of improved
seeds, supply of fertilizers, availability of
credit, and the research and extension systems
have been reviewed continuously. These pro-
grams have been modified in the light of ex-
perience wherever necessary. The govern-
ment has given high priority for agricultural
development, and this is reflected in increased
allocations made for irrigation and other ag-
ricultural production programs. The acceler-
ated targets for irrigation and fertilizer use are
capable of achievement from the technical,
financial, and institutional angles and when
achieved will be reflected in the production
Even in the past, several programs have
succeeded in some areas, while they have not
done so in others because of widely varying
levels of agroclimatic endowments or due to
the prevalence of several constraints or bar-
riers to the adoption of new technology, by
way of technological, organizational, institu-


864 December 1978

tional, and economic and social factors, inhib-
iting their adoption in the local area or situa-
tion. The high-yielding crop variety technol-
ogy is neutral to scale, but for its adoption, the
small farmer needs resources. The small
farmer may have access to credit, but before
the lending institution makes it available to
him he should have a clear title to the land he
cultivates. This requires the existence of a
good land records system. Groundwater may
be available, but its use by a small farmer
depends upon small farmers coming together
as a group so that they can go in for a tubewell
or masonry well jointly. Optimum results can
be obtained if the fertilizer recommendations
are based on soil tests in each farmer's field,
but the existing facilities for soil testing may
not be extensive. These are some of the con-
straints and barriers to the adoption of new
technology. Solutions to these problems may
have been arrived at in the shape of mac-
rolevel policies and institutions; but for re-
moving the constraints and barriers, these
problems need to be identified at the local
level, and solutions applicable at the local
level need to be adopted. This calls for a de-
velopment organization which is specifically
entrusted with this task.
The main conclusions that emerge from the
analysis presented in the paper may be briefly
recapitulated here:
(a) The per capital availability of food
grains over the period 1950 to 1977 does not
show any definite long-term trend. However,
on the basis of available estimates of domestic
production, the average per capital availability
in the triennium 1975-77 turns out to be lower
than that during 1970-72 and even 1960-62. At
the same time, during the period 1975-77, the
demand for food grains has been met entirely
from domestic production, as is evident from
the accumulation of stocks and easy price
situation; this being so, the causes for the ap-
parent decline in per capital consumption need
further investigation.
(b) The estimates of demand for food grains
in 1982-83 envisaged by the Planning Com-
mission indicate a level of 140-144 million tons
with alternative assumptions regarding redis-
tribution of purchasing power. This is also the

Amer. J. Agr. Econ.
production target proposed for the last year of
the new five-year plan 1978-83. The achieve-
ment of this target implies a growth rate of 3%
to 3.6% per annum over the base level produc-
tion of 121 million tons in 1977-78. This rate of
growth is more modest compared to the rates
aimed at in the previous plans, though higher
than the long-term growth achieved during
1949-50 to 1976-77 or even 1960-61 to 1976-
(c) The physical targets in respect of irriga-
tion, fertilizer use, and credit supply represent
a considerable step-up over those in the previ-
ous plans, are supported by financial provi-
sions and policies, and seem to be capable of
achievement, particularly in view of infra-
structure that has been built up over the years.
(d) To ensure that the potential which is
created is actually utilized by the farmers at
the local level, what is required more impor-
tantly is an appropriate development organiza-
tion which will look into the bottle necks and
barriers standing in the way of adoption of
new technology at that level and take remedial
Unless, therefore, the growth in demand for
food grains turns out to be substantially larger
than expected, there is a high probability that
India will be able to meet her food grain re-
quirements from domestic production and will
not have to go in for large-scale imports except
in years of severe drought. The existence of
large buffer stocks will enable the country to
tide over temporary shortages arising from
adverse weather.


Dharm Narain. "Growth of Productivity in Indian Ag-
riculture." Occasional Paper No. 93, Cornell Univer-
sity, 1976.
Government of India. Economic Survey, 1977-78.
Government of India, Directorate of Economics and
Statistics, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. Bul-
letin of Food Statistics, various issues.
Mellor, John W. The New Economics of Growth-A
Strategy for India and the Developing World. Cornell
University Press, 1976.
Vaidyanathan, A. "Performance and Prospects of Crop
Production in India." Econ. and Polit. Weekly, Spe-
cial Number, August 1977.

Reprinted from
Vol. 60, No. 5, December 1978

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