Why don’t Indian farmers grow more fruits and vegetables?

A brilliant post by Dr. Richa Govil of Ashoka India on IFMR’s BLog.

She asks why farmers don’t grow fruits and veggies over cereals?

In India, rice and wheat comprise 70 percent of agricultural produce by area, but less than 25 percent by value. In other words, wheat and rice are low value crops to grow compared to other options. Yet, the land area dedicated to wheat and rice has not seen a significant decrease in the last decade.

Government data shows that the consumption of wheat and rice has been declining around 1-2 percent in both urban and rural India, while the demand for fruits and vegetables has been rising by 2-3 percent annually. This again begs the question: Why aren’t farmers shifting to growing more fruits and vegetables?

Furthermore, detailed studies across the country have also shown that while farmers just about break even (gross return compared to gross costs) on cultivating wheat and rice, growing fruits and vegetables is a profitable undertaking (gross returns are on average double the costs). Besides fruits and vegetables, there are also other crops that generate a higher income than wheat and rice. Having gone through these reports and data, I have been wondering why, despite all this, do farmers choose to grow mostly wheat and rice?

In other words, if Indian consumers are demanding more fruits and vegetables, and these crops are more lucrative anyway, why do Indian farmers keep growing more and more wheat and rice?

Plenty of interesting observations there…

 

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