Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Agricultural Growth in India: Role of Technology, Incentives and Institutions
A. Vaidyanathan
Oxford University Press
Rs 675
Pp 225
ISBN: 9780198064473

In these essays a renowned expert examines the persistently slow and uneven growth in Indian agriculture in recent years. Presenting a comprehensive review of trends in output, costs and prices, and crop patterns at the national, state, and district levels, the volume evaluates the impact these trends have on different segments of the rural population and the growing rural–urban disparities. Substantiated by extensive research, the book argues that these patterns reflect changing agrarian structures and rural labour markets; uneven spread of technology and its sub-optimal performance; government policies that are not conducive to efficient use of resources and inputs; and serious deficiencies in the functioning of institutions.

The author suggests caution in assessing future growth prospects in the light of the slowing down in domestic demand and the risks of trade liberalization. He argues that agriculture cannot be jacked up to a higher growth trajectory without a significant shift in strategies, priorities, and major institutional reforms.

Appreciating the role of technology in raising output, this collection advocates a long-term plan for Indian agriculture with important policy implications. It will be useful for agricultural experts, students and teachers of agriculture, policymakers, researchers, academics, and those actively involved with inclusive growth.

Needed: Farm sector reforms  Hindu
There have been concerns about the growth, equity, and sustainability of Indian agriculture in the last few decades, particularly in the post-reform period. The annual growth of agriculture in the long term has been around 2.5 per cent. The business-as-usual approach will not help. Significant reforms in the agricultural sector are needed to accelerate growth and achieve equity. In this context, this book, a collection of essays by A. Vaidyanathan, is timely. A leading agricultural economist of the country, he has written extensively on various aspects of Indian farming.

As Vaidyanathan says, there have been serious gaps in an analytical understanding of agricultural growth and its determinants. In an attempt to correct this lacuna, this book examines the trends of agricultural growth in India and provides an in-depth analysis of the role of technology, incentives, and institutions in facilitating this growth. The discussion on technology also covers irrigation and fertilizers, while the one on incentives includes price policy and input subsidies. The chapter on institutions deals with agrarian structure, land and water management, research, infrastructure, marketing, and credit.

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