India’s Fragmented Land Holdings & Fodder Production

The agriculture sector is a cornerstone of the Indian economy, with around 60% of the population engaged in agriculture, contributing approximately 18% to the country’s GDP. Despite its significance, farmers face numerous challenges, often unnoticed, that affect their livelihoods from input procurement to marketing and post-harvest activities.

One of the major issues plaguing Indian agriculture is the prevalence of small and fragmented land holdings. According to the 10th Agricultural Census in 2015-16, India’s total operational land holding was 146.45 million hectares, with marginal and small operational holdings (0-2 hectares) constituting 86.2% of the total. This fragmentation results in several inefficiencies, making it difficult for farmers to generate adequate income due to challenges in mechanization, monocropping practices, and deteriorating land quality. Consequently, production costs remain high while productivity stays low.

The small and fragmented nature of land holdings hampers farmers’ ability to adopt modern agricultural techniques and reduces economies of scale. Mechanization becomes challenging, leading to increased labor costs and lower efficiency. Additionally, the limited land available for cultivation often forces farmers to use part of their holdings to grow green fodder, essential for livestock but further reducing the area available for cash crops.

This situation is exacerbated by inheritance laws that lead to the division of land into smaller and smaller parcels with each generation. As a result, farmers struggle to maintain sustainable income levels, and the quality of the land deteriorates due to overuse and suboptimal farming practices.

In this context, Shunya’s innovative hydroponic green fodder production offers a transformative solution. By growing green fodder hydroponically, Shunya helps release valuable land banks that farmers would otherwise use for fodder cultivation. This allows farmers to allocate more of their limited land to cash crops, thereby enhancing their income potential.

Hydroponic fodder production requires significantly less water and land compared to traditional farming methods. Shunya’s facilities, designed to produce about 5 tons of fodder daily, provide a reliable and sustainable source of nutrition for livestock. This method not only addresses the deficit of green fodder but also reduces the reliance on groundwater, making it a viable solution for the future.

Moreover, Shunya’s initiative has the potential to empower landless laborers by enabling them to keep livestock without needing extensive land for fodder cultivation. The availability of hydroponically grown fodder means that even those without land can sustain livestock, thereby improving their livelihoods and contributing to rural economic development.