The world was caught in a severe economic crisis, which primarily originated from the U.S. in early 2007. Over the past two years, the crisis has virtually spread to the entire world causing an extreme credit crunch. The agricultural sector has also felt the heat of the meltdown, but there is a lot of uncertainty about the magnitude of the impact of economic recession on agriculture.

One of the major planks of rapid poverty reduction in the Eleventh Five Year Plan is the successful implementation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in majority of the states of India.

The Approach Paper to the Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2007-12) has chosen 'faster and more inclusive growth' as its central theme. It recognised the need to make growth 'more inclusive' in terms of benefits of growth flowing to those sections of population, which have been bypassed by high rates of economic growth achieved in recent years.

Food security has been a cause of concern for the Indian economy as the physical and economic access to food with adequate calorie content from different sources has been on the wane over time. The per capita net availability of cereals and pulses declined from 510 gms per day in 1991 to 436 gms in 2008 as per data thrown by the Economic Survey, Government of India, 2009-10.

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) came into existence after the enactment of the Parliament Act 'National Rural Employment Guarantee Act' (2005) in September 2005. The primary objective of the scheme is to provide 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

The Common Minimum Programme of the UPA government at the Centre articulates that, 'Landless families will be endowed with land through implementation of land ceiling and land redistribution legislation. No reversal of ceilings legislation will be permitted' (The Hindu, 2004).

In India plantations of exotic tree species like populous debtoides, Acacia spp., Eucalyptus spp., Laucaena leucocephala and Prosopis juliflora etc were promoted to meet the increasing industrial and fuel demand. The exotic acacia and eucalyptus were introduced in Nilgiris Hills in 1858 where E. globules was planted along with E. Robusta.

In India, the first Self Help Group (SHG) emerged in 1985, with the initiative of the Mysore Resettlement and Development Agency (MYRADA), a non-governmental organisation for promotion of self-help affinity groups; watershed, water and wasteland management.

Agriculture in Punjab had high growth for a long time up to early 1990s; it slowed down thereafter due to the available potential of resources and technology getting exploited closer to the possible limits, which led to increasing costs, shrinking resource base, declining productivity, profitability and incomes.

Forests provide wide range of ecosystem services and thereby help communities to derive many direct and indirect benefits. Forest watershed services of absorbing rain water and releasing it slowly, allowing it to seep into the soil preventing run-off with sediments helps communities downstream to maximise the benefits from crop cultivation.