The Indian agricultural sector can be seen as a success story. Yet, India currently finds itself at a crossroad, as reforms and new technologies are urgently required to achieve greater efficiency and productivity.
India has done remarkably well in terms of output growth, despite irregularities in weather and price. In terms of agricultural products, India is largely self-sufficient. It is the world’s largest producer of milk, potatoes and fruits and a leading producer of vegetables, spices and plantation crops as well as livestock, fisheries and poultry.
The share of agriculture in India’s overall economy has declined to less than 15% due to the high growth rates of the country’s industrial and services sectors. This indicator, however, does not properly reflect the importance of the agricultural sector, since more than half of India’s population depends on income from agriculture. The majority of India’s poor are found in rural areas. Furthermore, India’s food security largely depends on producing cereal crops, as well as increasing the production of fruits, vegetables and milk to meet the demands of a growing population with rising incomes.
The challenge for the agriculture sector and policy makers is to produce enough food to feed the population, while at the same time meeting the fast growing consumer demand for a world class variety of food products. They will have to overcome supply barriers and ensure seamless end-to-end linkages to meet an increasing demand. Every year, India sees nearly one-third of its produce go to waste because of lacking cold chain infrastructure and technology. For this reason, India is set on improving skills and infrastructure in the agriculture sector.
India realizes the urgent need for modern technology and know-how to improve the productivity of farmers, in order to face the challenges that lie ahead. By 2028, India is likely to have surpassed China as the world’s most populous nation, with a population of around 1.45 billion putting huge pressure on the agriculture sector.
Possibilities and opportunities
The Netherlands enjoys a good reputation in India and is well known for its technology and expertise in agriculture. Experts from The Netherlands have been working together with Indian agriculture stakeholders for a long time and have significantly contributed to the overall development of the agriculture sector in India.
Produce going to waste is one of the main challenges of the Indian agriculture sector. Some other challenges include low productivity of per hectare of land, unorganized and inefficient practice, shortage of agricultural labor, a declining youth participation in agriculture and inadequate mechanization.
To encourage both private and PPP collaboration, and to leverage maximum business, the Dutch government has initiated the establishment of agricultural consortiums. In these consortiums, companies represent various areas of the agriculture sector, such as horticulture, potato, dairy, cold chain, animal husbandry, food processing and so on. The goal is to integrate Dutch knowledge and expertise locally with available resources in India. We believe this concept could create a win-win situation for the stakeholders from both countries.
As part of the Indo-Dutch action plan it was agreed between the Government of India and government of Netherlands to establish a total of 10 Indo-Dutch Centers of Excellence (CoE’s) in different states. In the Centers of Excellence, training is imparted and production methods and techniques are demonstrated by companies. Thus, Dutch companies can help in increasing food production in India by improving production methods, enhancing logistics and food safety. The 10 approved CoE’s focus on horticulture, dairy, potato and meat chains. Dutch technology and know-how will be adapted to the Indian circumstances. The first centers will be established in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Punjab as a pilot project. Gradually, more Centers of Excellence will be opened throughout India.