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Importance of agriculture: Why Agriculture is the Lifeline of a Country?

For so many decades, Agriculture had been, typically associated with the trade of producing common food crops. Farming and agriculture happened to be synonymous since the former was not commercialized. However, as the economic development in various countries gained enough momentum, a multitude of other employment opportunities related to the business of farming began to be acknowledged as an integral part of agriculture.Importance of Agriculture

In modern times, in addition to farming, agriculture includes a host of other allied occupations; such as forestry, dairy, fruit cultivation, poultry, mushroom culture, arbitrary, and beekeeping to name a few. Business processes like food processing, marketing, distribution, etc. are all primary functions of the modern agricultural industry in this twenty-first century.

Hence, agriculture could be defined as the sequential task of growing, processing, selling, and distributing various crops and plant-products for livestock consumption.

Agriculture is the art or science of production of crops and livestock on farm.

Webster’s Dictionary

Top benefits of agriculture

Provides a source of livelihood

The primary occupation for the Indian working population is farming, and agriculture and seven in every ten people are directly engaged in commercial cultivation. However; this ratio is extremely insignificant in advanced nations like the USSR (32%), Japan (21%), Australia (16%), France (14%) the UK (5%), and the USA (4%).

Contributes to national income

Agriculture is the principal contributor to the gross domestic product (GDP). As per the historical data provided by the National income Committee (NIC) and the Central Statistics Office (CSO), more than half (52% to be just precise) of the gross national income (GNI) was funded by agriculture and other allied trade practices in 1960-61. This sector alone was responsible for contributing 42.2% and 41.8% respectively in 1976-77 and 1981-82 respectively. It was even reduced to 32.4% and 28% in 1999-2000 and 2001-02 respectively. In sharp contrast to it, the share of agriculture to the GNI-pie is a record minimum of 2.5% and 3% in Canada and the USA respectively, 3.1% and 6% for the UK and Japan respectively, and 7.6% in case of Australia.

Impacts  international trade

Agricultural items like tea, rice, sugar, spices, tobacco, etc. are very much in demand in the export markets. If the development of the agricultural sector is steady and consistent, the supply of imports is reduced significantly while the demand for exports is increased considerably. Thus; it is hugely beneficial for preserving the foreign exchequer; which can be allocated to import various machineries, necessary raw materials, and other infrastructural products; and this, in turn, helps the national economy to develop and sustain its progress.

Generates marketable surplus

Market surplus can be successfully attributed to the development of the agri-sector. As the economy of a country keeps leaping forward; an increasing number of individuals can be found earning their bread and butter from manufacturing, mining, and other non-allied sectors. All these workers are dependent upon the agricultural yields that they can meet with inputs from what the economists call marketable surplus. As developments take place in the agricultural sector, as the output increases, market surplus expands as well; which can be exported to other countries. The human civilization itself is the witness of the historical incidents, which substantiates the argument that the phenomenal progress of Japan and many other high-income countries were driven by the surplus produced by their agriculture.

Supplies raw material

Agriculture has always been the leading producer of raw materials like jute, cotton, tobacco, sugar, edible & non-edible oils, etc. that keep the traditional industries alive and kicking. Additionally; industries like fruit and vegetable processing, pulses milling, molasses making, rice husking, etc. are also dependent on agricultural processes as well to procure their source materials. One UN survey observed that the trade sectors using agri-derived raw materials generate precisely half (50%) of the value added and near about one-third (64%) of all employment in the industrial segment.

Contributes to forex

Agricultural sector continues to play an instrumental role in positively influencing the trade exports of a country. In the Indian subcontinent; agri-commodities like tobacco, jute, spices, oilseeds, raw cotton, coffee and tea accounts for around one-fifth (18%) of the total financial value of exports; which proves that agri-products still remain a major source for earning foreign exchange.

Generates income for the government

In the land of the world’s sixth largest economy, many Indian state governments earn sizeable revenue churned by the local and regional agri-economy. Land revenue, irrigation tax, agri-income tax, and numerous other taxes are levied on accrued earnings from agriculture. Furthermore, revenue is generated from duty on excise and export of agri-consumables as well. The Raj Committee formed on agricultural taxation has prescribed to tax the income produced by agriculture to fill the government coffers.

Aids in economic development

Estonian economist and international policymaker Dr. (prof.) Ragnar Nurkse (1907-59), who co-founded the discipline of classical development economics (CDE), and was globally known for his balanced growth theory (BGT); has spoken in favor of periodic improvements in the agricultural sector to sustain the stable growth of the economy of a country. The developments in this field can be rightly held responsible for supplying all the capital required for the advancement of other commercial segments like industry, foreign trade, and transport. Balanced growth of these two sectors; namely, industrial and agricultural,  is what a developing nation needs today. Period.

Conclusion

Agriculture is a crucial source of livelihood for all the countries including technically advanced nations like the USA. It is indeed a tough job that contributes to the health and food security of any country. Before the great industrial revolution started, agriculture happened to occupy a vital place in the economy of most of the sovereign states. In spite of a plethora of work assignments are coming in different verticals, many people still rely on this ancient practice to earn a living.

Human civilization cannot afford to forget, ignore, or even downplay the significance of agriculture; as the former started its maiden journey while tightly grasping the nurturing hands of the latter. The green revolution not only fuelled the rapid growth of the rural and also the urban landscapes but also diligently played a catalytic role for the phenomenal progress in the distinct domains of classical knowledge and its applications. Of late, its importance has been grossly overlooked and understated, because of a false notion that contemporary genetic engineering is capable of producing all the crops and food grains that are being ingested today. In recent world summits, which witnessed cheerful participations of pro-nature agri-scientists around the word, the pressing need for organic farming and agri-business was actively argued for.

As the farmer who won the lottery said when asked what he was going to do with his winnings; “Keep farming until it is all gone.”

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