When Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the cabinet-approved new Crop Insurance scheme yesterday in Madhya Pradesh, the one thing he constantly applauded was the effort of state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and of the farmers. Indeed, ever since Chouhan took over as the chief minister of MP in 2005, its agricultural growth rate has been phenomenal. The state has got the Krishi Karman award from the president 3 times in the last 5 years.
Chart 1: Agricultural growth in the past 10 years has exceeded all other states, even Gujarat.
Chart 2: The farm sector growth rate is especially note-worthy as it is broad-based, unlike the wheat led Green revolution of 1960s and 70s. All the commodities are experiencing positive growth.
Chart 3: This phenomenal growth is not just because of bringing more land under cultivation (which has just increased by 21% from 2002-03 to 2012-13) but also due to high yield growth per acre of land.
So what has caused these phenomenally high growth rates?
As was with the green revolution it is a combined effort of scientific know-how, political do-how and farmers’ toil.
Chart 4: New genetic varieties have enhanced agriculture extension services. Superior varieties of seed by the Kisan Vigyan Kendras (KVK’s) have helped (like the sharbati variety of wheat provided by our public sector scientists). When it comes to taste, quality and other attributes, Madhya Pradesh’s sharbati tops the charts in demand in the metros. Area under drip-irrigation has increased manifold that saves water and increases productivity.
Chart 5 - The government support is obviously the most important factor. Power supply in the past 7 years have increased by 87 percent. Other important ways through which the governments in India helps the farmers include increasing irrigated area and assured procurement of grains.
Chart 6 – Not to be ignored is the farmer’s efforts visible in the increased application of fertilisers and the number of tractors purchased for modern farming.
But the story is incomplete. Rural wages still remain among the lowest in MP. Even the farm power consumption is still low despite its increase from 0.84 kw per hectare to 1.54 kw. Farm power in Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat is more than 3 kw per hectare. Farmer suicides especially in the past 2 drought seasons have not stopped
In conclusion, it’s clear that this is sustained by a combination of assured power, de-centralising irrigation, focus on agricultural extension services, popularisation of modern micro-irrigation techniques, promised procurement with adequate compensation and finally the leadership’s focus, even single mindedly, on agriculture.
Heart of the solution lies in the CM’s belief “I have always said agriculture should be about profit - it should be a business.”
The lesson here is for the eastern states lagging behind in productivity. They can really benefit from higher spending on irrigation. Ensuring timely water and electricity could also lead to higher productivity.
The article has taken data from this article from Ashok Gulati published in the Indian Express on 7 December, 2015.
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