Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for about 58% of India’s population. Gross Value Added by agriculture, forestry, and fishing was estimated at Rs. 19.48 lakh crore (US$ 276.37 billion) in FY20. Share of agriculture and allied sectors in gross value added (GVA) of India at current prices stood at 17.8 % in FY20. Consumer spending in India will return to growth in 2021 post the pandemic-led contraction, expanding by as much as 6.6%.

The Indian food industry is poised for huge growth, increasing its contribution to world food trade every year due to its immense potential for value addition, particularly within the food processing industry. Indian food and grocery market is the world’s sixth largest, with retail contributing 70% of the sales. The Indian food processing industry accounts for 32% of the country’s total food market, one of the largest industries in India and is ranked fifth in terms of production, consumption, export and expected growth.

Salient features of agriculture :
  • Agriculture is the largest provider of livelihood in rural India
  • It contributes 25 percent to India’s GDP
  • It is still dependent primarily on the monsoons.
  • The growth in agricultural production has been stagnant for the past several years.
  • The drought in north and western parts in FY09 created shortages in supply of food grains.

Importance  of Agriculture :
  •   Significance to the International Trade
Agricultural products like sugar, tea, rice, spices, tobacco, coffee etc. constitute the major items of exports of countries that rely on agriculture. If there is smooth development practice of agriculture, imports are reduced while export increases considerably. This helps to reduce countries unfavorable balance of payments as well as saving foreign exchange. This amount may be well used to import other essential inputs, machinery, raw-material, and other infrastructure that is helpful for the support of country’s economic development.

  • Food Security
A stable agricultural sector ensures a nation of food security. The main requirement of any country is food security. Food security prevents malnourishment that has traditionally been believed to be one of the major problems faced by the developing countries. Most countries rely on agricultural products as well as associated industries for their main source of income. 
  • Marketable Surplus   
Marketable surplus may be defined as the residual of produce left with the producer after meeting his requirements for family consumption, farm needs etc. It also means the portion of produce left for sale. Marketable surplus, which is genuine and not artificial or forced, is the fountain source of not only agricultural development but also of overall economic development. It is the real surplus generated by agricultural sector.

  • Foreign Exchange Resources
The nation’s export trade depends largely on agricultural sector. For example, agricultural commodities such as jute, tobacco, spices, oilseeds, raw cotton, tea as well as coffee accounts for approximately 18 % of the entire value of exports of a country. This demonstrates that agriculture products also continue to be important source of earning a country foreign exchange.

  • Great Employment Opportunities
Construction of irrigation schemes, drainage system as well as other such activities in the agricultural sector is important as it provides larger employment opportunities. Agriculture sector provides more employment opportunities to the labor force that reduce the high rate of unemployment in developing countries caused by the fast growing population.