Indian agriculture in the 21st century: The political economy of market reforms

An Australian Research Council Discovery Project into the social and economic implications of the liberalization of Indian agriculture. Chief Investigators A/Prof Bill Pritchard and Professor John Connell; research affiliate Dr Jeffrey Neilson and Postgraduate student Ms Jasmine Glover.

About the project

Badagas farmers

India has emerged to be one of the key players in the global economy of the 21st century, with the fortunes of its agricultural sector central to its economic and social transformations. Coincident with the general liberalisation and modernisation of the Indian economy since the early 1990s, the Indian agricultural policy pendulum has swung sharply towards market reforms. Instigated unilaterally by Indian administrations or because of WTO compliance requirements, the liberalisation of Indian agriculture has represented an historic shift from the ‘balanced agrarian’ philosophies which underwrote India’s nationalist aspirations at Independence.

This project is generating empirical knowledge into these processes, for the ultimate objective of providing an internationally significant assessment of the political economy of Indian agrarian reform. The way this is being done is through an integrated analysis of three strategically important sites of market-led restructuring: (i) contract farming in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu; (ii) high-input horticulture, (floriculture in the Nilgiris District of Tamil Nadu), and (iii) regulatory changes in plantation agriculture associated with international requirements (coffee production in western Karnataka).

Linked to this project, from November 2007-February 2008 Dr N. Ajjan of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, is a Visiting Scholar at the School of Geosciences. Dr Ajjan obtained an Endeavour Fellowship from the Australian Government.

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Project outputs

  • Neilson, J. & Pritchard, B. (2007) “The final frontier? The global roll-out of the retail revolution in India”, D. Burch & G. Lawrence (eds) Supermarkets and Agri-Food Supply Chains: Transformations in the Production and Consumption of Foods, Edward Elgar, Melbourne.