Agriculture is the mainstay of the Indian economy because of its high share in employment and livelihood creation. It supports more than half a billion people providing employment to 52 per cent of the workforce. Its contribution to the nation's GDP is about 18.5 per cent in 2006-07. It is also an important source of raw material and demand for many industrial products, particularly fertilizers, pesticides, agricultural implements and a variety of consumer goods.
Department of Agriculture and Cooperation under the Ministry of Agriculture is the nodal organisation responsible for development of the agriculture sector. It is responsible for formulation and implementation of national policies and programmes aimed at achieving rapid agricultural growth through optimum utilization of land, water, soil and plant resources of the country.
Agriculture being a State subject, it is the responsibility of the State Governments to ensure growth and development of the sector within their respective State. Accordingly, separate departments have been set up in several States.
Several significant initiatives have been taken in recent years by the Government Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), National Policy For Farmers, 2007 Expansion of Institutional Credit to Farmers, National Rural Health Mission, National Food Security Mission, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana to incentivise the states to invest more in agriculture, Integrated Food Law, Legislative Framework for Warehousing Development and Regulation, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights (PPVFR) Act, 2001, National Bamboo Mission, etc.
The rapid growth of agriculture is essential not only for self-reliance but also for meeting the food and nutritional security of the people, to bring about equitable distribution of income and wealth in rural areas as well as to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life. Growth in agriculture has a maximum cascading impact on other sectors, leading to the spread of benefits over the entire economy and the largest segment of population.