OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook › Agricultural Outlook 2014: Special feature on India
This edition of the Outlook focuses on India, the world’s second most populous country with the largest number of farmers and also the largest number of food insecure people. The Outlook portrays a relatively optimistic scenario for India, which is projected to sustain production and consumption growth of food, led in particular by higher value added sectors.
The new National Food Security Act is the largest right to food programme of its kind ever attempted, allocating rations of subsidised cereals (about 90 percent below retail price) to more than 800 million people. Its implementation will be a major challenge.
Subsidies to encourage greater use of fertilisers, pesticides, seeds, water, electricity, and credit, as well as market support prices, have contributed to strong annual agricultural output growth in the last decade. These programs continue to promote production growth enabling Indian agriculture to expand per capita supplies considerably, although rising resource pressures reduce absolute growth rates over the next decade.
While remaining largely vegetarian, Indian diets will diversify. Cereal consumption is expected to grow, but greater consumption of milk and dairy products, pulses, fruits and vegetables will contribute to improved intake of food nutrients. Fish will also provide an important and growing source of protein, while meat consumption will grow strongly, though still ranking among the lowest in the world.
India is among the leading exporters of agricultural products, with a trade surplus that has grown from USD 3.6 billion in 2000 to an estimated USD 22 billion in 2013 (Global Trade Information Services, 2014). Recent higher levels of exports are expected to reduce somewhat before increasing over the Outlook as production capacity may have the tendency to modestly outpace demand growth. Rice accounts for the bulk of exports, followed by cotton and fishery products. Exports of wheat and coarse grain vary, and have often reached high levels, and exports of protein meal and cotton are rising. Recently India has become one of the top bovine meat exporters. On the other hand, India continues to be the largest importer of edible oils and pulses in the world, and alternates as a major sugar importer or exporter.
Key uncertainties lie in India’s macro performance, the sustainability of yield growth and the viability of government programmes.
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