ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Horticulture Diversification Key to Development Role of Small and Marginal Farmers

The trend of growth in horticulture, along with the underlying value of output from the sector, is analysed. The higher remuneration from the sector pulls the farmers towards horticulture, especially cultivation of vegetables. Regression analysis, and a direct correlation between farm size and income levels, is used to understand the relationship between the small and marginal farmers and the diversification in agriculture. Evidently, the diversification of agriculture is highly valuable and critically important for the small and marginal farmers. Although challenges persist, there is need to provide proper infrastructure, generate effective marketing intelligence and provide quality inputs to facilitate diversification.


The performance of agriculture is crucial for the economic transformation of India. Agriculture plays significant role in generating employment, providing national food security and livelihood to nearly 70% of the rural households in the country. Nearly, 48% of the working population depend directly or indirectly on agriculture and allied sectors. With the growth of the service and manufacturing sectors, the gross value added (GVA) for agriculture has been receding. Its contribution continuously fell from 40% in 1980 to just 16.5% in 2019–20 (GoI 2019a). According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, there has been a significant rise of small and marginal farmers in India, from just 65% in 1980s to an astonishing 82% in 2019–20 (GoI 2019a).

The growth rate of agriculture from the past few decades, post the green revolution has not been overwhelming. Between 1980 and 1995, the growth rate was 3.3%, which plummeted even lower post the liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation (LPG) reforms in 1991 (Shiyani and Pandya 1998). From 2000 to 2010, this growth rate was around 2.3%, and in the last decade we witnessed two consecutive years—2014–15—of drought (the El Niño effect), and a growth rate of around 3%. This growth rate is in contrast to the overall growth rate of the country’s GVA and gross domestic product (GDP), with agricultural growth rate slower at 2%–3% (Chand et al 2007). Considering the high dependence on the sector, as it is the largest source of livelihood in the country and the most predominant sector for rural development and poverty amelioration, the falling growth rate poses significant challenge to economic pursuits of the nation.

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Updated On : 6th Sep, 2021
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