Policy Intervention in West Bengal Agriculture: Role of Diversification

  • Shiv Raj Singh
  • Subhasis Mandal
  • K. K. Datta
  • Uttam Bhattacharya
Part of the India Studies in Business and Economics book series (ISBE)


This chapter argues that besides producing food grains, the Eastern India has great potential to produce several high value commodities like horticulture, livestock and fisheries to accelerate the growth of agricultural output. However, one of the key impediments to fostering the agricultural growth in this region is the small and marginal production unit of the majority of the farmers. The small scale of production unit can produce these high value commodities with high to moderate production efficiency, but poor marketing efficiency. Farming units are usually confronted with many unpredictable uncertainties ranging from climatic vagaries to market price fluctuations. The degree of uncertainty is greater for the small and marginal landholders, where the farmers do not have access to basic information on various risks including loss of assets and income. Keeping in view of the opportunities and prospects of agricultural growth, the paper focuses on the ways and means of agricultural development in West Bengal, which may help to accelerate the rural income and household level food and nutritional security. Farming in West Bengal is individual-driven and unorganized, with the average size of holding being 0.82 ha, much lower than the national average of 1.33 ha. Therefore, individual farmers, with very small marketable surplus of produce, have to pay market price for all farm inputs and other basic utilities and consumable items. There is, therefore, a need to organize a vastly unorganized farming community in such a way as to help them to gain from the market economy. Smallholders are competitive in high value agricultural activities, because of the availability of family labour and their ability to compete in local markets. However, as production and marketing systems evolve, support to smallholders to provide efficient input services, links to output markets and risk mitigation measures will be important, if they are to provide higher value products. Innovative public support and links to the private sector will be required for the poor to adapt and benefit from the emerging systems.


Farm Household Dairy Animal Marginal Farmer Fishery Sector Livestock Rear 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Banerjee A, Gertler V, Paul J, Maitresh G (2002) Empowerment and deficiency: tenancy reform in West Bengal. J Polit Econ 110(21):239–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bhattacharya M, Bhattacharya S (2007) Agrarian impasse in West Bengal in the liberalization era. Econ Polit Wkly 42(52):65–71 (29 December)Google Scholar
  3. Devendra C, Thomas D, Jabbar MA, Zerbini E (2000) Improvement of livestock production in crop-animal systems in rainfed agro-ecological zones of South Asia. International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, p 108Google Scholar
  4. Govt. of India (1972, 1982, 1992 & 2002) Agricultural statistics at a glance (Various issues), Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of IndiaGoogle Scholar
  5. Himansu (2007) Recent trend in poverty and inequality: some preliminary results. Econ Polit Wkly 42(6):497—508 (10th February)Google Scholar
  6. Lerman RI, Yitzhaki S (1985) Income inequality effects by income source: a new approach and applications to the United States. Rev Econ Stat 67:151–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Mandal S, Datta KK, Lama, TD (2010) Economic evolution of farming system research in NEH region: some issues. Indian J Agric Econ 65(1):118–134Google Scholar
  8. National Horticulture Database (2008) Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India. http://www.nhb.gov.in. Accessed 23 Jan 2011
  9. National Sample Survey Organisation (2005) Situation assessment survey of famers: 2003. National sample survey 59th round, ministry of statistics and programme implementation, Government of IndiaGoogle Scholar
  10. Paris TR (2002) Crop-animal systems in Asia: socioeconomic benefits and impacts on rural livelihoods. Agric Syst 71:147–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Parthasarathy Rao P, Hall AJ (2003) Importance of crop residues in crop-livestock systems in India and farmers’ perceptions of fodder quality in coarse cereals. Field Crops Res 84:189–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Thomas D, Zerbini E, Parthasarathy Rao P, Vaidyanathan A (2002) Increasing animal productivity on small mixed farms in South Asia: a systems perspective. Agric Syst 71:41–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Sengupta S, Gazdar H (1998) Agrarian politics and rural development in West Bengal. In Dreze J, Sen A (eds) Indian development: selected regional perspectives. Clarendon, Oxford, pp 129–204Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer India 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shiv Raj Singh
    • 1
  • Subhasis Mandal
    • 2
  • K. K. Datta
    • 3
  • Uttam Bhattacharya
    • 4
  1. 1.Shri G.N. Patel Dairy Science & Food Technology CollegeGujaratIndia
  2. 2.Central Soil Salinity Research InstituteCanning StationIndia
  3. 3.National Dairy Research Institute (Deemed University)HaryanaIndia
  4. 4.Institute of Development Studies Kolkata (IDSK)KolkataIndia

Personalised recommendations