Opportunities in India Agriculture


Agriculture plays a vital role in India’s economy. Over 58 per cent of the rural households depend on agriculture as their principal means of livelihood. Agriculture, along with fisheries and forestry, is one of the largest contributors to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

India ranks third in farm and agriculture outputs. Agricultural export constitutes 10 per cent of the country’s exports and is the fourth-largest exported principal commodity. The agro industry in India is divided into several sub segments such as canned, dairy, processed, frozen food to fisheries, meat, poultry, and food grains.

The Department of Agriculture and Cooperation under the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for the development of the agriculture sector in India. It manages several other bodies, such as the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), to develop other allied agricultural sectors.

Market Size

Over the recent past, multiple factors have worked together to facilitate growth in the agriculture sector in India. These include growth in household income and consumption, expansion in the food processing sector and increase in agricultural exports. Rising private participation in Indian agriculture, growing organic farming and use of information technology are some of the key trends in the agriculture industry.

As per the 4th Advance Estimates, food grain production is estimated at 252.68 million tonnes (MT) for 2014-15. Production of pulses estimated at 17.20 million tonnes.

With an annual output of 138 MT, India is the largest producer of milk. It also has the largest bovine population. India is the largest importer of pulses at 19.0 MT and 3.4 MT, respectively. India, the second-largest producer of sugar, accounts for 14 per cent of the global output. It is the sixth-largest exporter of sugar, accounting for 2.76 per cent of the global exports.

Spice exports from India are expected to reach US$ 3 billion by 2016–17 due to creative marketing strategies, innovative packaging, strength in quality and strong distribution networks. The spices market in India is valued at Rs 40,000 crore (US$ 6.16 billion) annually, of which the branded segment accounts for 15 per cent.

The procurement target for rice during marketing season (MS) 2015–16 has been finalised as 30 MT.


Several players have invested in the agricultural sector in India, mainly driven by the government’s initiatives and schemes.

According to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the Indian agricultural services and agricultural machinery sectors have cumulatively attracted foreign direct investment (FDI) equity inflow of about US$ 2,182 million from April 2000 to June 2015.

Some major investments and developments in agriculture in the recent past are as follows:

  • Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), India’s leading tractor and utility vehicle manufacturer, announced its entry into pulses retailing under the brand ‘NuPro’. Going forward, the company plans to foray into e-retailing and sale of dairy products.
  • Fertilizer cooperative IFFCO launched a joint venture with Japanese firm Mitsubishi Corp for manufacturing agrochemicals in India.
  • Acumen, a not-for-profit global venture fund, has invested Rs 11 crore (US$ 1.7 million) in Sahayog Dairy, an integrated entity in the segment, based at Harda district in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Rabo Equity Advisors, the private equity arm of Netherlands-based Rabo Group, raised US$ 100 million for the first close of its second fund – India Agri Business Fund II. The fund plans to invest US$ 15–17 million in 10–12 companies.
  • Oman India Joint Investment Fund (OIJIF), a joint venture (JV) between the State Bank of India (SBI) and State General Reserve Fund (SGRF), invested Rs 95 crore (US$ 14.62 million) in GSP Crop Science, a Gujarat-based agrochemicals company.
  • The world's seventh-largest agrochemicals firm, Israel-based ADAMA Agrochemicals plans to invest at least US$ 50 million in India over the next three years.
  • Belgium-based Univeg has collaborated with Mahindra & Mahindra to develop a fresh fruit supply chain.
  • Companies from the US, Canada, Australia, Israel, the Netherlands and other European countries have shown strong interest to transfer the best practices, linkages between scientific institutes, agriculture storage, cold-chain management, market access, and productivity enhancement such as the introduction of new technology in seed and plant biotech.
  • Canada-based International Food Security Research Fund has major investments in food security research in several Indian universities. These strengthen food-processing and sustainable agricultural techniques.