In this article, You will read Agricultural Inputs and Productivity – for UPSC (Economic Geography).

Agricultural Inputs and Productivity

  • Global productivity pattern is highly uneven. There is an inter-regional disparity in Agricultural Productivity for example Agricultural Productivity in India is higher than in Nepal.
  • There has also been an intra-regional disparity in Agricultural Productivity, for example, Punjab and Haryana have very high Agricultural Productivity, while the plateau regions in eastern India have low Agricultural Productivity. Similarly, eastern China has high Agricultural Productivity, while western China has low Agricultural Productivity. California, Texas, prairies in the USA and south and south-eastern Brazil have high Agricultural Productivity.
  • Productivity is the ratio of farm output and farm input. Productivity is always measured with reference to an aerial unit. FAO and others use hectares as the land unit.
    • Productivity is different from fertility. High fertile land need not be high productivity. For example, despite having high fertile agricultural land in India as compared to China & South Korea, productivity is much less than in China & South Korea.
  • The agriculture system has the following components: Input, output, process, and feedback.
    • Input: seed, fertilizers, labor, tools, knowledge, skill, policy, are the input of the farm system. 
    • Output: food grains, grass, fruit, meat, milk, fish, etc, are the output of the farm system. 
    • Process: farming, harvesting, plowing, livestock farming, etc, are the process of the agriculture system. 
    • Feedbackbased on the farm output, farmers get the feedback. Using this feedback or experienced knowledge farmer may change the input & process of the agricultural system.
Agricultural Inputs

Determinants of Agricultural Productivity

  • Agricultural Productivity is primarily governed by three factors:
    • Environment: within this, climate and soil are the main determinants.
    • Society: the land is properly managed in developed countries. In monsoonal countries land is inherited, here land management is a social affair, and consequently development of agriculture is low.
    • Agriculture inputs: inputs play a pivotal role. They are also known as infrastructural agricultural inputs. They are:
      • Irrigation facilities
      • HYV
      • Chemical fertilizer
      • Modern agricultural implements
      • Pesticides
  • Those countries which have either developed the agricultural inputs indigenously or have imported these, have been able to make greater productivity of agricultural lands. E.g. – black soil, alluvial soils have very high fertility. Land carrying capacity is high but they are unable to provide high productivity.
  • Alluvial soil of Bihar is more fertile than that of Punjab and Haryana, but due to agricultural inputs, Punjab and Haryana have higher productivity. Alluvial plains of Myanmar, Vietnam are very fertile but productivity is low compared to Western Europe, where the soil is not at all fertile (region of podzol soil). Here natural fertility is low but productivity is high due to agricultural inputs.
Technical efficiency and productivity
Better technological conditions (red line)


  • From an agricultural point of view, we divide the countries into three categories:
    • High productivity- >3000 kg/ha yield of cereals
    • Medium productivity – 2000-3000 kg/ha
    • Low productivity- <2000 kg/ha
  • Countries of high productivity:
    • These include developed countries, Egypt, China, Chile, Indonesia, and South Korea. These are countries where both environmental factors, as well as input factors, have worked.
    • Some examples are:
      • Egypt– Egypt has black alluvium soil with agricultural inputs which has resulted in making 95% of land arable.
      • Chile– around 80% of the land is irrigated
      • China– Eastern coastal plain is very fertile, Northern plains, Hwang Ho plain, Manchuria coastal area, Loess plain have got an agricultural revolution.
      • Indonesia– Lava plateau are very fertile.
    • France, South Korea, Germany, etc. are not endowed with fertile soil. All have podzol or podzolic soil. But due to agricultural inputs, their productivity is among the highest in the world.
  • Medium productivity countries:
    • These include countries which are making attempts to improve agricultural productivity, so there has been tendency to give more agricultural inputs.
    • Such countries are Vietnam, Malaysia, Argentina, Myanmar, Mexico, Bangladesh, Brazil, Philippines etc.
  • Low productivity countries
    • Most of these countries have environmental suitability over large areas but due to lack of agricultural inputs, productivity is low.
    • Secondly, natural hazards create problems in the development of inputs. These are countries where regional development has taken place. They have a very high level of intraregional variations in agricultural productivity.
      • E.g. In 2005, India recorded total productivity of 2367 kg/ha, but Punjab and Haryana have yields exceeding 3000 kg/ha, while Assam had a value at 1100kg/ha.
    • In Pakistan, Punjab has productivity greater than 3000 kg/ha, while productivity in Baluchistan is less than 1000 kg/ha.
    • In Nigerian, the Niger river’s command area has high productivity, while the northern plateau has Agricultural Productivity between 500 and 700 kg/ha
    • Most of the sub-Saharan countries have black alluvium content but unfavorable climate and lack of irrigation are principally responsible for low and very low productivity.
Classification of Agricultural Productivity
  • Although there have been inter-regional and intra-regional variations in agricultural productivity but there has been growing attempts by developing countries to increase agricultural productivity, primarily using agricultural inputs. This is obvious from the increase in productivity seen in some countries.
  • When we consider general agricultural productivity, including all crops, it is found that countries using agricultural inputs have developed profitable agricultural economies.
  • Commercial grain farming of the USA, Canada, France, Norway, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand are good examples. They have also provided inputs to other crops and the yield is phenomenal in wheat, maize, and rice in the USA and wheat, potato in Western European countries.
  • Developing countries are still dependent to a greater extent on natural conditions. Whatever inputs are given they are given to food crops, so industrial and commercial crops are almost ignored. Developing countries have failed to develop new seeds and new agricultural technology and whatever is developed in western countries are not much suitable for developing countries.
  • So whenever they use imported HYV seeds and imported modern agricultural technology, they are unable to get the required productivity.
  • Thus, poor and developing countries have to take major steps first for developing indigenous inputs and secondly more technological interactions with the developed countries.
  • Present emphasis has changed. Presently there is a need to develop sustainable seeds and only those infrastructures which may have environmental suitability. So developing countries also have challenges to develop new inputs- drought-resistant seeds, flood-resistant seeds, and different systems of irrigation in drought areas.
  • They also need to change crop priority and suitable needs to be encouraged. By taking such measures, developing countries may also improve their agricultural productivity.
Agricultural Inputs and Productivity
Cereal yields across developing regions
Cereal yields across developing regions

Methods to increase productivity

  • Mechanization in agriculture 
  • Innovative ideas in agriculture 
  • Knowledge, skill 
  • High-quality seeds, fertilizer, pesticides may increase the productivity
  • Zero budget farming 
  • Soil health card scheme 

Importance of productivity

  • Regional imbalance can be estimated by calculating the productivity of farms. 
  • Knowledge disparities also can be known through productivity 
  • Productivity is the actual measurement of efficiency in farm sectors

Examples for reference

  • Irrigation: Hoover dam constructed on river Colorado which successfully irrigated the dry Arizona desert.
  • HYV seeds led to the Green Revolution in India which increase agricultural yield exponentially.
  • Manures and fertilizers increased the yield in Japan (340 kg/ha) and South Korea (400 kg/ha). Now there is a focus on biofertilizers.
  • Land reclamation and soil conservation in Malaysia have led to the reclamation of a vast section of land which has been distributed to landless peasants for agriculture.
  • Methods used for plant protection are:
    • Crop rotation
    • Soil management
    • Use of pesticides
  • Mechanisation of agriculture has resulted in:
    • Capital intensive agriculture by use of precision farming, extensive grain farming
    • Labour intensive farming
    • Research and development in agriculture
    • Cold storage can prevent post-harvest losses.
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There is some mismatch in the classification. Kindly rectify them. For eg- as per table india’s productivity is more than 2000 but in explanation it has been put under low productivity category.

Shivam Gaur

very helpful and to the point …thank u very much …


It would have been better if you have added case studies