Industry can Help India Expand Farm Mechanization and Increase Farmer Revenue
By Patrick Hayden, Policy Director for Food and Agriculture

India is a nation of farmers. 50% of India’s population works in the agriculture sector, and since the Green Revolution of the 1960’s, Indian farm productivity has increased from 40% to 500%.  This has led to India becoming self-sufficient in food staples such as wheat, rice and pulses. However, the country has still not reached its full potential in areas such as yield, processing and exports and some reports indicate that India meets just 50%-60% of the potential yield for most crops. How can India put agriculture at the forefront of its inclusive development agenda and position itself as the breadbasket of Asia?

While there are a number of solutions, including cold chain & infrastructure improvements to decrease waste, adoption of pulses in farm production for increased revenue, and better use of water resources, and a real reform of how credit and farm insurance is handled, what I’d like to highlight today is farm mechanization and the use of modern farm implements.  India has the second highest amount of arable land in the world behind the United States, at 159.7 million hectares, but the average Indian farm is less than 2 hectares in size and is not using modern farming techniques. Small farm size has the limited revenue that it produces has been an impediment to farmers being able to invest in mechanization and other modern techniques that could help them increase their revenues.  The good news is that industry has begun to develop new and innovative ways for farmers to make use of modern implements and methods without having to take out large loans to buy, say, a tractor that they would not need to use every day.

USIBC member John Deere has lead and is supporting the implementation of various Custom Hiring Centers (CHCs) with both the Indian private sector and state governments that enable small hold farmers to utilize farm mechanization services to cultivate and harvest their farms, thus improving productivity of the land and improving their incomes.  The CHCs loam farmers the implements they need for as little or long as they need them, allowing them to gain experience using modern techniques without having to spend more than they can afford. This model illustrates the innovative approaches American companies are taking to partner with local stakeholders to best serve India’s farmers and help achieve food security goals.

Industry is also encouraging agricultural entrepreneurship with a focus on agronomy, crop care, harvest, post-harvest, input commodities and market linkages. These kinds of programs can help increase the production of more valuable crops by Indian farmers, help them plan for the future, and diversify their planting.  These programs will help Indian farmers reach their potential and partner works with industry to make India into a global food production powerhouse.