The effects of population growth on agricultural lands have been debated from the time of Malthus. Although Malthus predicted the inability of agriculture to keep in pace with population growth, these expectations have not become reality in industrialized countries, but agricultural production has fallen in many developing countries, including India (Pender et al, 1999). In addition, there is a severe growing concern about the impacts of rapid population growth on agricultural lands (Ehrlich 1990).
Agriculture is the largest industry in Punjab, and Punjab is the only provider of wheat in India. Most of Punjab lies in fertile plains, alluvial plains with many rivers and extensive irrigation canal systems. Punjab being an agricultural state has its large population living in rural areas. In recent times, there is a growing concern in Punjab about the massive influx of Hindu laborers from other Indian states. Hence, it increases the population growth (Nkonya et al, 1999).
The focus will be based on the impacts of intense population growth in Punjab has on agricultural land in terms of arable land utilization and implication of agriculture productivity in Punjab. Punjab state, offers an appropriate case study, for it is under the influence of high demographic and agricultural changes in recent years. The study will use secondary data sources (Chandra, 1980).
The problems of high population and large growth arose because the government was not able to carry out the Family Planning policies. Successive government has failed to put more concern to these issues leading to a tremendous increase in population in the country. Politicians do not seem concerned in the welfare of the state (Nkonya et al, 1999). They try to deal with other concerns hardly realizing the majority of the problems India has to come up with today are because of the large population. Lack of sex education has also a large role to play in the high growth of population. Another factor contributing to high population growth is child marriages. Though the government has put in place Child Marriage Policy, the policy is not well implemented at the grass root. The government is not also putting measures to control immigration from other states to Punjab (Chandra, 1980)
Impacts of population growth in agriculture
Population growth has different impacts on agricultural lands. These effects may be positive or negative. Population growth in Punjab has put a lot of pressure on agricultural land by reducing its size through fragmentation for future generation (Ehrlich, 2000). People have started settling in the land, which would otherwise have been used for agriculture. This has led to the decline in agricultural output. On the other hand, since Punjab’s main economic activity is agriculture, increase in population has led to increase in labour, hence, a reduction in cost of producing agricultural products (Kartik & Mishra, 1994).
Better education, higher standards of living and awareness among the growing age group population would create the required consciousness among people that small families are preferable (Chandra, 1980).
The simplest way to help, is visiting the homes of the uneducated families and teaching their women about family planning (Jayaswal, 1992).The government should also put in place policy, prohibiting fragmentation of agricultural land. This would encourage commercial farming rather than subsistence farming.
Success of policy measures
Through educating the young and the poor, they have embraced small family setting. This has significantly reduced population growth, hence reducing pressure on agricultural land. Land reforms have advocated for liberalization of tenancy. This has increased availability of land in lease market and for the poor. Family planning has helped many people to manage their families (Chandra, 1980).
High increase in population growth in Punjab is brought by uncontrolled family planning and immigration of Hindus laborers from other states. This high population has adversely affected the agricultural land through fragmentation. It has lowered agricultural productivity, which is the main economic activity. If the population growth is not adequately controlled it may significantly affect future food security and lower economic growth (Chandra, 1980).