Day 44 – Q.1 Examine the significance of highways and waterways for agricultural supply chains in India. Do you think India’s current road infrastructure has been sufficiently tapped in this regard? Critically examine.

  • IASbaba
  • January 10, 2023
  • 0
GS 3, Indian Economy, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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Examine the significance of highways and waterways for agricultural supply chains in India. Do you think India’s current road infrastructure has been sufficiently tapped in this regard? Critically examine.

भारत में कृषि आपूर्ति श्रृंखलाओं के लिए राजमार्गों और जलमार्गों के महत्व का परीक्षण कीजिए। क्या आपको लगता है कि इस संबंध में भारत की वर्तमान सड़क अवसंरचना का पर्याप्त उपयोग किया गया है? समालोचनात्मक जाँच कीजिए।


Start with basic intro on agriculture SCM, and highlight the significance of road transportation mainly and also try to give example of waterways for agriculture and as per demand examine the existing infrastructure.


An agriculture supply chain system involves mode of transportation that are responsible for the distribution of vegetable/Fruits/Cereals/Pulses or animal-based products. Mostly flow if goods are done through road and rail transportation in India.


Significance of highways and waterways for agricultural supply chains in India:

  • For the distribution of agriculture items, road transport has crucial role to play as it is the chief means of transporting the agricultural goods from the farms to local markets and also to several urban locations.
  • Rivers are a natural highway which does not require any cost of construction and maintenance carrying agriculture goods at large scale in Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers has huge potential.
  • Both road and water route infrastructure support producers, agripreneurs and agricultural micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in their production value chain are central to the transition.
  • Better transportation services generate improved agricultural income as well as fruitful employment. A planned network of roads helps to minimize the transport cost, boost the delivery of farming material and improves special agricultural production as well as distribution.
  • With effective road and water route highways agricultural markets, APMC, warehouse, food processing units and cold storages can be integrated for the national agriculture market will be beneficial for e-NAM and e-commerce in both B2B and B2C markets.
  • Hence, if the road services in the rural area are good, it will greatly impact the farmers’ productivity, employment, income and also decreases the poverty. Therefore, need to build robust road infrastructure from existing one SCM of agriculture.

Current poor transportation and lack of multi-modal linkages leads to delay in procuring perishable items and thus leads to losses:

  • National highways in India account for only 2% of the total road network but transport 40% of all cargo. Although waterways capacity is increasing, a lack of connectivity to these ports causes cost increases and delays in the transfer of goods.
  • Most roads in the rural areas are Kutcha (bullock- cart roads) and become useless in the rainy season. Under these circumstances the farmers cannot carry their produce to the main market and are forced to sell it in the local market at low price.
  • If transport services are not common, cheap quality or costly then agriculturalists will be at an inconvenience when they try to sell their crops. An expensive service will naturally lead to low farm gate prices (the net price the farmer receives from selling his produce).
  • The seasonally blocked routes or sluggish and irregular transport services, together with unsatisfactory storage, can actually lead to high losses as specific items such as milk, fresh vegetables, tea, get worse quickly after a while.
  • In case the agricultural products are moved through bumpy road network, then several other crops such as mangoes & bananas might also suffer losses from staining. This also shows up in reduced rates to the agriculturalist.


The supply chain in agriculture is affected by several issues owing to the infrastructure deficit. Government needs to build capacity with warehousing, cold storage, packaging, metalled or pucca road with efficient transport system to reduce distress of farmers.

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