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|The great Indian food challenge|
|Thursday, 20 January 2011 04:04|
It is important for the states to come out with solutions to achieve long-term foodgrain self-sufficiency
Source: Business Standard
Production of foodgrain, that is, cereals and pulses, has been rising in India, from an average of 65 million tonnes in the fifties to 211 million tonnes in the 2000s. Foodgrain yield rose from 606 kg/hectare to 1,731 kg/hectare. In 2008, India ranked third in cereal production, after China and the US, and first in pulses production. In 2008-09, the top three states producing rice were West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh; top wheat producers were Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana; top producers of coarse cereals were Rajasthan, Karnataka and Maharashtra; and pulses production was highest in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Despite the rise in production and yields, the high demand from a growing population has led to a situation in which per capita net availability (which includes net imports) peaked for cereals in the nineties and has steadily been dropping for pulses since the fifties. Raising foodgrain yield is, therefore, a key element to ensure food sufficiency in the long term.
Taking the period 2004-05 to 2008-09, the latest five years for which the data are available with the department of agriculture, Punjab and Haryana continue to reign at the top of the ranking, with yields much more than 3,000 kg/hectare, compared to the national average of 1,873 kg/hectare. At the other end, there are ten states with a yield less than 1,500 kg/hectare — these are Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Orissa, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. Maharashtra, in fact, is the only state with average foodgrain yield less than 1,000 kg/hectare in these years.(Click for FOOD FACTS)
If we compare the average foodgrain yield across two five-year periods, 1999-2000 to 2003-04 and 2004-05 and 2008-09, we find that yields have dropped in Punjab by close to 400 kg/hectare, a disturbing trend for the “Food Bowl of India”. Mizoram is the only state to show an even sharper drop, with average foodgrain yield falling by more than 700 kg/hectare and has recently launched a programme to end “jhum” cultivation, shifting to permanent farming to stem this decline. The state with the highest improvement in yields over these periods is Rajasthan, by more than 600 kg/hectare, while Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Gujarat are the other three large states to have improved foodgrain yields by more than 300 kg/hectare. Even though Maharashtra had the lowest foodgrain yield in both these periods, there has been an increase of about 120 kg/hectare over time. Chhattisgarh, with the second lowest foodgrain yield, registered a more significant increase of around 200 kg per hectare.
Apart from the fact that the area under foodgrain has been falling since the eighties, there are many other crucial concerns to address. As the Report of the Working Group on Crop Husbandry, Agricultural Inputs, Demand and Supply Projections and Agricultural Statistics for the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-12) put it, “...technology fatigue, soil fatigue, declining fertiliser response rate, depleting water resources, irrigation potential and capital stock and agro-climatic aberrations.” Therefore, solutions to resolve these issues have to be put in place in all states to achieve foodgrain self-sufficiency.
million hectares Average
million tonnes Average
1950-51 to 1959-60 108 65 606
1960-61 to 1969-70 118 85 718
1970-71 to 79-80 125 112 892
1980-81 to 89-90 127 147 1,156
1990-91 to 99-00 124 189 1,525
2000-01 to 2009-10 121 211 1,731
Source: Estimates from Agricultural Statistics 2010, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation
Per capita net availability
(grammes per day)
1951-60 366 66
1961-70 393 55
1971-80 396 43
1981-90 395 37
1991-2000 440 36
2001-2008 408 34
Source: Economic Survey 2009-10;
2008 figures provisional
Indian States Development Scorecard is a weekly feature by Indicus Analytics that focuses on the progress in India and the states across various socio-economic parameters