Suvarna Chalak, a resilient small farmer in Bhatshirpura village in the Dharashiv district of Maharashtra, finds herself facing the looming threat of yet another drought. However, Suvarna remains confident in her ability to navigate this crisis. In the face of potential crop failure due to water scarcity, she and many others in her village have diversified their income sources by engaging in livestock farming.
With a modest cattle stock, many farmers have ventured into goat rearing, poultry, and dairy businesses.
NITI Aayog data shed light on the evolving landscape of food production in India, showcasing a notable shift in composition over the years, particularly after 1981.
The share of livestock products in the total value of agri-food output has steadily risen from 17.6 per cent in 1980-81 to 27.4 per cent in 2001, reaching 36.9 per cent in 2020-21.
Per capita production of meat, fish, milk, fruits and vegetables, as per the NITI Aayog data, witnessed a threefold increase between the 1960s and the decade post-2011.
Concurrently, egg production recorded an eightfold surge over the same period. These statistics underscore a clear shift in the composition of food output in India towards horticultural and livestock commodities.
Analysing the long-term trends, it becomes apparent that except pulses and millets, the production of all other commodities has outpaced the growth in the human population.
Between 1950-51 and 2020-21, the highest growth was observed in egg production, followed by meat, fish, and milk.
A NITI Aayog working paper titled ‘From Green Revolution to Amrit Kaal,’ authored by Ramesh Chand and Jaspal Singh, emphasises that Indian farmers are highly responsive to market signals. These signals may arise from public policies, such as minimum support price (MSP) and procurement, or from shifts in demand. The paper suggests that demand-driven factors exert a more significant impact on output growth compared to the influence of price support.
This is evident in the substantial growth in the production of fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, meat, and fish, in contrast to that of cereals and sugarcane, both heavily supported by the government through effective price support mechanisms.
The data and research collectively paint a picture of a dynamic agricultural landscape in India. Farmers like Suvarna Chalak are not only adapting to challenges such as drought, but are also actively participating in the diversification of the country’s food production.
The growing significance of livestock products in the agri-food sector reflects a pragmatic response to market dynamics and evolving consumer preferences.
As India progresses from the Green Revolution to the “Amrit Kaal”, the resilience and adaptability of its farmers play a crucial role in shaping the future of the country’s agriculture.