Economics essay assignment on: Policy makers in India & foreign countries
Indian population’s large size and its ongoing growth is a major concern for public, government and policy makers in India and in foreign countries. The main aim of this research paper is to discuss different aspects of population growth and its impact on environment of Punjab. Punjab is one of the most beautiful states of India with regards to its climate. It is located in northwest of India and covers the area of around 50,362 km2. Moreover, the largest industry of Punjab is agriculture and it accounts to the largest single wheat producer of India. Next, the report has been continued in few paragraphs highlighting the information. Paper’s main focus is on describing the growth and decline in population of rural areas and their impact on Punjab’s agriculture development. In this context, first section of the report talks about the problem of population and its impact on environmental development of Punjab. Then, it discusses the history of change in population in rural areas of Punjab between 1990 and 2011. Following this, it was found that over 60.50 percent of people live in the rural areas of Punjab out of its total population.
Afterward, section 2 of this research paper emphasizes on agriculture industry of Punjab and how it is being affected by population status of the state. In this context, Punjab has been noticed the richest state in India as it has achieved and shown remarkable growth over the years. They made it possible by adopting new and innovative technologies in agriculture. As more than half of Punjab’s population live in rural areas and are engaged in farming and agriculture, therefore the number of people contributing to agriculture development is essential to know. Afterward, the paper presents and discusses local, national and global level policies concerning the issues related to population and environment of Punjab. In this regard, planning commission of India has set some rules in order to address the issues. Moreover, policies and strategies also have been taken into consideration for fast and even agricultural growth. Following this, some of the alternatives available with regards to policies and strategies for rural population role in agricultural growth have been discussed in this paper.
Problems in rural Punjab:
However, Punjab is the largest producer of wheat in India and it has good area for wheat crop around 27 lakh and for rice around 35 lakh hectares, it is facing a number of serious problems in its agriculture development. Presently, the sustainability of Punjab’s cropping system is under threat and may lead to serious and noticeable issues. The problems may be following:
- There can be over utilization of natural resources such as ground water or so;
- Small firm’s operators’ poor economy status in the state;
- Weakening population and education level in rural areas of Punjab;
- And, rural indebtedness.
Moreover, census of 2001 revealed that rural population of Punjab is more than 1 crore which makes about 66 percent of Punjab’s total population. This population is inhabited in more than 12 thousand villages and over 20 districts of Punjab. Nonetheless, the transformation process which is structural has led to many problems such as reducing the income generation of rural economy but rural population still depends on agriculture industry. In contrast, census has also demonstrated that people are making a shift from rural areas to urban areas and turning into modern economic sector from agricultural activities for more earning. This problem has taken place due to economic distress in the state. In this context, when the productive growth of agriculture industry represented fatigue signs, it led to the crisis in rural economy (Chan, 1999a).
Additionally, one of the researches made based on 36 villages of Punjab revealed that there were 7669 households, in which 2167 households out of that belong to villages of Punjab which are comparatively less economically developed. These come out with around 28 percent and present that economically less developed villages of Punjab are small in number and size are also away from Punjab’s major cities. On the other hand, among 36 examined villages, 3232 households out of 7669 are inhabited in developed villages of Punjab. This again can be articulated that rural households of Punjab are engaged in agriculture and non-agriculture activities. They earn their livelihood from these activities and survive (NSSO, 2005).
Statistics of Punjab’s population:
Population of Punjab in 1991-2011 presented by census of India:
(Source: Dyson, 2012)
(Source: Census of India, 2001)
This graph represents the percentage of decadal growth rate of Punjab’s population of India. It shows that Punjab had 20.1% decadal growth between 1991 and 2001 and it got down to 13.73% from 2001 to 2011. This overall data has presented the decline in growth of Punjab population which has made an impact on Agricultural development of Punjab. Reason being, many of farmers switched from agriculture activities to business and other services in order to earn more.
Population in Punjab has increased from 9.2 million (1951) to 26.3 million (2011). The fact is that the population growth is not at par when compared to the other states, which have the socio –economic conditions in comparison with Punjab. The 2011 census shows that Punjab has a population growth of 19.76% over the last decade. It is the lowest among the other major northern states of India. Another contrasting feature about the Punjab census is the sex ratio. It is one of the worst in comparison with the other forward states of India (Census of India, 2001).
Another factor worth attention is the increasing urban population in Punjab. During the period 2001-2011 has seen the urban population growing by 25.72 % in contrast with the overall growth rate of 13.73% and a rural growth rate of 7.58%. Punjab had been an Agri economy over the decades. The rural population being distinctly higher than the urban population points to this (Government of Punjab, 1997).
Now, the increasing levels of urbanization points a finger to the fact that Punjab seems to be shifting its stance on a “pure” agrarian economy. It seems to be focusing on other industries as well ( PHD Research Bureau).
The sharp decline in the population growth in the rural areas of Punjab over the last decade can be due to
- Labour requirements in farm lands significantly reduced due to usage of machinery.
- Lesser immigration from other states.
- Farming no longer a lucrative source of income.
It is very clear that, over the last decade the farmers have realized that being solely dependent on farming is economically unviable. Punjab had been the centre for the Green revolution in India. The green revolution, of course had immediate effects on the productivity. What it lacked in was sustainability. Ever since the green revolution the farmers of Punjab shunned the traditional methods of farming and became heavily dependent on chemical fertilizers. (Singh, 2003)
Studies indicate that the ground water is being depleted off at a much larger rate, than what is replenished from rainfall. The groundwater usage was not kept at a check, and now it will be very difficult to curb its menacing demand. The higher levels of irrigation has caused severe depletion of the ground water resources, that agriculture has lost sustainability. Agricultural scientists, who designed the main frame of the Green Revolution, did not bother to think beyond. On the whole, farming is not at all lucrative or sustainable option in Punjab as it used to be in the last decades (Robert 1994).
There had been an efflux population from Punjab, looking out for newer greener pastures. The younger generation does not find agriculture attractive enough, after who wants to be drawn in to debts. Furthermore, as per the data presented by census Punjab’s total population was around 2.5 crores in 2001 and 2.8 crores in 2011. On the basis of this data, decadal growth was counted between 1991-2001 and 2001-2011 which was 20.1 and 13.73 respectively. Moreover, average annual exponential growth rate counted between 1991-2001 and 2001-2011 was 1.85 and 1.3 respectively. This illustrates that growth rate of Punjab’s population declined from 2001 to 2011 in comparison to between 1991 and 2001. This was because of decline in rural population of Punjab because many farmers committed suicides and many of then left the places on account of not being able to survive only on farming at the time of economic distress (Dyson, 2012).
Impact of population on agriculture:
Moreover, agricultural growth or development can be discussed here to see the impact of population on it. According to one of the NGOs working in the Southern Punjab has stated that around 1738 suicides cases were noted in Punjab’s rural areas between 1988 and 2010 and moreover more than 50,000 suicides have been committed over the last two decades in Punjab. Punjab state has displayed case of agricultural development’s successful story since the time of green revolution. As a result of not being able to contribute to agriculture industry, it has become a losing scheme of Punjab. The decline in Punjab’s rural population raised many issues such as use of modified seeds, chemical fertilizers, security and development of areas required for cropping. However, the rising and declining in the population remain constant due to the problems of not getting aspired to earn good income and other related problems. In this context, paper outlines some issues in agriculture which took place due to declining population of rural areas of Punjab. First, the economic condition of farmers and workers doing agricultural activities has weakened and therefore cannot be improved easily with already existing system of technology and cropping. In addition, this has been oppressed to more than 70 percent potential of those systems (Janvier, 2007).
Second, talking about the population impact on agriculture industry, one of the research papers has articulated that around 20 percent of farming population of Punjab is counted in below the poverty line in terms of level of income. This decreasing level of income also affects the involvement of farmers in growth and development of agriculture industry. Similarly, more than 45 percent of farmers’ family income is very low which comes from both crop and dairy farms. Besides, it is even lower than the income of unskilled labour of Punjab which is paid to them at lowest pay scale. As the population is decreasing day by day in rural areas of Punjab, less people are there to take care of ground water level and rate. Therefore, the rate of water-table in the area of Central Punjab is going very low with 0.23 cm rate per annum. It has been noticed in census in India that if continues to be down for next 14 or 15 years, then around 2 lakh centrifugal pumps will be replaced by suitable submersible pumps. Additionally, those submersible will be cost of Rs. 2000 crore or would be of around 5000/hectare of net propagated area of Punjab (Agriculture & Industry survey, 2011).
As Punjab farmers make huge investment in this field of their survival, decline in population would affect this agricultural development because, expensive seeds, machines and other tools and techniques would not be affordable by rural people’s income. Therefore, it will result in reduction of supply of good crops to both local and external markets.
Further, following issues can be noticed which have taken place due to declining population of Punjab’s rural areas:
- Farmers who had small and medium-sized holdings took more area for lease in order to make a profitable use of their farm sources.
- The adult male members of farming families took more interest in other off-farm jobs and therefore it affected agricultural development as they were not much involved in this industry.
- Moreover, most of the farmers sold their lands because of economic distress because they became unable to support their farms for cultivation purpose. This again resulted in lack of land required for agriculture activities in Punjab for most of its use (Gandhi, 1997).
Furthermore, Punjab could make share of only 40 percent in 1998-1999 due to decline in population. Punjab is known for its cropping system and dominated market for wheat, rice and cotton, but this is lacking including the food grains for these commodities. Shortage of food grains is the result of people’s less interest and their switching to other areas and business activities. In this context, the excess supply for these food grains has also reduced. Afterward, the population effect is also noticeable because policies utilized in agriculture industry are not appropriate and in accordance with farmers’ requirement (Human, 2008).
Alternatively, when population of rural Punjab increases, then it becomes difficult and costly to provide the electricity to every household, as it is used more in agriculture industry. Government has introduced a policy to provide free electricity to the farmers which has resulted in ground water’s excess mining and lessening of water table’s extent. In other phase, the situation of globalization is also a major part of population and its impact on agricultural industry of Punjab. Following this, people of rural areas do not agree for excessive external price for the food grains and therefore are not agree to face the globalization challenge. There has been a declining presence of farmers and other rural people in agriculture development or growth over the past decades. Moreover, decline in population may result in reduction of crops and food grains. It also affects the demand for crops (Johl, 1996).
Policies and their responses:
Furthermore, policies can be identified and discussed here in the support of agricultural development which may be at local, national and global level. Some of them have been presented currently by Punjab government. In this regard, a long-term agriculture policy was framed for state level development. The main aim of the policy is to overcome the agriculture sector’s stagnation. Apart from this, they decided to make it a profession which would be remunerative and viable in relation to country’s economy. Next, the policy will also look after the role of rural population in this context and will improve the economic group of rural areas of Punjab state of India. According to the research, it has been stated that Punjab’s economy’s backbone is agriculture because it has the capacity to offer employment to about more than 50 percent of state’s population, be it direct or indirect employment. Government also takes care into consideration that Punjab alone contributes near about 30 percent to gross state domestic product (Gill & Singh, 2002).
Additionally, chief minister of Punjab also took initiative and directed his chief secretary to make coordination with the union ministry of agriculture and food in order to settle the pending issues which are related to procurement by India’s food corporation. The policies was framed for Punjab to store 30 lakh MT wheat and rice to cover up the shortage of supply they are facing. First, to improve and develop agriculture industry, policymakers need to have a look and explore the emerging opportunities and alternatives available that can be approached. Second, share of export can be increased and in terms of growing significance of fruits & vegetables, products made by animals’ skin and fishery products. Lastly, base of agriculture should be diversified and expanded by the government to get more involvement of rural people from Punjab (PNS, 2012).
On the other hand, policy made for state level also suggested that policymakers should not concentrate only on Food Corporation of India for selling food grains but also look for other alternatives with relation to other agricultural commodities that would be sold outside the Indian market. This will further provide employment to more Indians as they are facing unemployment problems also. In contrast, it is also required to identify and find out niche market which can benefit agricultural industry and increase farmers’ income. On the other front of agricultural development and role of Punjab’s population in that new and innovative technologies should be pushed forward to foster the crop yield. It has been pointed out that the replacement rate in Punjab for seeds continues to be fewer than about 10 percent. In addition, Punjab’s farmers need to move ahead and make a shift from common wheat and rice to various varieties such as basmati rice and wheat of durum variety (Foster al, 2003).
Afterward, implications of such changes after implementation of policies made can be viewed in Agrarian structure of Punjab. New policies attracted a great number of farmers to agriculture industry because mechanical inputs were associated with the system. In sum, ninth plan proposed by Punjab government was to present the strategies for agriculture and rural development. In this regard, tenth plan made between 2002 and 2007 was focused on the diversification of agriculture and cropping system as well. In support, various development projects were brought forward such as integrated watershed, proper water supply, and environmental sanitation. After introducing such plans and policies, Punjab has held a place for pride for getting extraordinary achievements in terms of rural development. These policies and plan did not only help agriculture sector for its development but also increased the national demand for food. Reason for this achievement was a use of policies in a proper sequence (Government of Punjab, 1969-2002).
Moreover, the farming sector needs to be modernized like doing farming in a cost-effective manner. It should include integration of new and innovative farming systems not only crop systems. Apart from this, there should be a proper diversification in income of farmers in its sources. Besides, the major and most vital thins is to take care of management of costs of both working and fixed capital in farming and agriculture. This step will also make a positive impact on rural people and will attract them for better options of good earning so that they would be able to survive. A policy framework can be presented over here with regards to policy for agriculture extension. Following are some approaches:
- Community development approach to extension
- Transfer of technology approach through T & V and its limitations (Singh, 2001)
In this regard, one of the projects on national agriculture extension got completed by the early 1990s and it was made a point that T & V approach required to be renovated in order to meet the technology requirement of farmers throughout 21st century. This approach mainly focused on needs of farmers such as increasing their incomes through diversification of programs and other high value commodities. Therefore, policy proposed made some reforms in this sector which can be discusses in detail (Smith al, 1984).
- First, it made institutional restructuring
- Management of agriculture industry was also restructured
- Research-extension associations were reinforced
- Required area and building capacity and skill up gradation
- Main point of reform was empowerment of farmers
- Women’s mainstreaming in agriculture sector
- Appropriate use of media and information technology for better framework
- Other related financial sustainability
- Finally, brought change in government’s role (Sharma, 1998)
Other alternatives and approaches in that context were farming systems approach and multi-agency extension service. With the support of farming system approach, all the farms, farm households and other non-farm activities are considered in a nurturing way. Subsequently, not only farming but also all the aspects which make up households’ multiple objectives such as nutrition, sustainability, income increment, food security, minimization of risk and employment generation. On the other hand extension service of multi-agencies helped agriculture sector providing them with good quality of seeds, updated technologies, and support to farmers and meeting the specific demands of farmers. Similarly, ICAR extension such as Krishi Vigyan Kendras, institute village linkage program, Agriculture technology information centers is the part of public extension service. Alternatively, farmers’ cooperative organizations and firms, link farmers, mahila mitra kisans, Agribusinesses, pesticides, seeds suppliers were the part of private extension services. Apart from this, alternative approaches made possible the cropping of tobacco, coffee, vegetable and tea with the help of tractors, sprinklers, drip irrigations and threshers (Punjab Agriculture, 1998).
In support, private firms were encouraged to take participation in technology transfer in agriculture activities. Other plans for development and growth in agriculture sector were agriculture technology management agency at district level, strategic research plans, technology centers at mandal/block level, group approaches to staff, etc. These policies also helped farmers’ acquisitioning of skills and competencies such as proper use of technologies to be used in cropping and farming (Agricoop, n.d).
Next, the state of Punjab can encourage the production of organic crop and farmers should be provided incentives for their better performance at farm level. State agencies and other NGOs should intervene in agricultural situations in the form of intermediaries in order to protect the interests of farmers and local community associated with that industry. Punjab, being one of the largest producers of food grains in India; it cannot afford to trade on the agricultural lands of the state.
- The actions should be taken to prevent urbanization of farm lands.
- There is a need to make stricter policies and plans to maintain the green belt
- Government or state should fix better income plans to farmers instead of giving them credit because the problem of indebtedness and suicides can also be averted by taking this step
- Steps are needed to be taken in order to replenish groundwater
- Farm lands should be made pesticide free so that nutrients, vegetables and food grains could be planted
- Restore soil health by organic means
- Finally, let the second phase of Green revolution be an organic Green Revolution (Singh, 2012).
On the basis of overall discussion, a conclusion can be drawn out of it. This paper has researched the population of Punjab state of India and its decadal and exponential growth rate. This shows that Punjab is a state where more than 65% of population lives in rural areas and majority of them earn from farming and agriculture sector. Punjab is one of the most prosperous states in the Indian subcontinent. The land is nurtured by five rivers, which makes the land extremely fertile. The state is often referred to as the ‘Wheat basket’ of the Indian subcontinent. Punjab, which occupies just 1.2% of India’s land area, had been the major producer of wheat (around 70% of the national produce) and rice .The state is feeding around 1.2 billion hungry stomachs. The census of India in 2011 presented that urban population has made a growth over rural population three times more which was 13.73% and 7.58% respectively. On the other hand, rural people of Punjab have faced the problem of committing suicides and indebtedness. These problems led them to shift their way of earning from agriculture to other off-farm activities.
According to people, farming was no more a profitable source of income for them, as it was not producing good and had not high quality technologies and systems in farming and cropping. The declining population of state has shown the reduction in crops and food grains which was not up to the mark with ever-growing demand of the country. The crisis of agriculture sector got worse in the early 1990 and resulted in the production of crop at state level. As a result of this crisis and major issues, people sold their lands for other purposes as they were not able to make profit from those due to economic distress and less production. Moreover, the members of farming families switched to other off-farm jobs such as service, teaching, banking jobs and businesses. Apart from this, the farmers who were holding small and middle sized firms took more areas for lease to earn more profit.
Furthermore, the next paragraph of the paper has highlighted the policies and alternative approaches that can be used and implemented for agricultural growth in Punjab state. These policies were in the form of public and private extension services. Through these policies, government decided to grow the production of other high quality products which can increase the income of farmers as well. The approaches made benefits to agriculture industry and sought the applicable growth in terms of better technology, good-quality seeds and better resources. These policies also made farmers aware of the skills required for cultivation. Farmers and other community’s economic situations were taken into consideration for betterment so that they could facilitate and grow agriculture sector automatically. The rising costs of cultivation, sustainability, risk minimization and diversification of systems were also a part of involvement in these approaches taken in hand by policymakers.
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