Agriculture and allied sectors are considered to be the mainstay of the Indian economy. They are the important source of raw material and demand for many industrial products, particularly fertilizers, pesticides, agricultural implements and a variety of consumer goods. They contribute nearly 22 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of India. About 65-70 per cent of the population is dependent on agriculture for their livelihood.
'Agriculture and allied' industry is further divided into several segments, namely:- horticulture and its allied sectors (including fruits and vegetables, flowers, plantation crops, spices, aromatic and medicinal plants); fisheries sector; animal husbandry and livestock; and sericulture. India's varied agro-climatic conditions are highly favourable for the growth of large number of horticultural crops, which occupy around 10 per cent of gross cropped area of the country producing 160.75 million tonnes.
India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world. It is also second largest producer of flowers after China. It is also leading producer, consumer and exporter for spices and plantation crops like tea, coffee, etc. While, sericulture is an agro-based cottage industry. India is ranked as the second major raw silk producer in the world.
Fisheries sector occupies a very important place in the socio-economic development of the country. It is a big source of employment opportunities for the large number of people in the country, especially rural population. It has a huge export potential. Similarly, India has vast resource of livestock and poultry, which play a vital role in promoting the welfare of rural masses. The Indian Dairy Industry has acquired substantial growth momentum from 9th Plan onwards. India's milk output during the year
2006-2007 reached the level of 100.9 million tonnes (provisional), which has placed the country on top in the world in this field.
The Ministry of Agriculture is the main authority in India for regulation and development of activities relating to agriculture, horticulture, fishing, animal husbandry, etc. It is implementing various schemes and policies for the sector through its divisions like 'Department of Agriculture and Cooperation' and 'Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries'. Further, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries is actively engaged in promotion of entrepreneurial activities in the segments of fish processing as well as fruits and vegetables processing. Besides, commodity boards, like tea board, coffee board, rubber board, medicinal plants board, etc. have been set up to boost the growth of the sectors like tea, coffee, rubber, medicinal plants, respectively.
Hence, there exists innumerable business opportunities in the agriculture and allied sectors. Investors from all over the world are making more and more investments into the sector for unleashing its existing potentialities as well as for exploring the untapped areas.