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From plate to plough: A leaf from the MP book

Madhya Pradesh’s agricultural growth rates offer important lessons for the Centre

Written by Ashok Gulati , Aastha Malhotra | Published: December 7, 2015 12:06 am
shivraj singh chouhan, madhya pradesh, shivraj chouhan 10 years as CM, MP CM shivraj 10 years, Madhya Pradesh farmers, MP farming report, MP agriculture reprt, MP agricultural production, MP national wheat contribution, MP agricultural policy, MP BJP, india news, madhya pradesh news, latest news Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan being felicitate by State BJP after complete his 10 year as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, at State Party Headquarter in Bhopal on Sunday. (Source: PTI)

Shivraj Singh Chouhan completed 10 years in office as chief minister of Madhya Pradesh last week. His most outstanding achievement is the excellent performance of agriculture — the agri-GDP of MP grew at 9.7 per cent per annum during 2005-06 to 2014-15, surpassing even record-holder Gujarat’s 7.7 per cent. The last five years have been even more spectacular: The agri-GDP grew at 14.2 per cent per annum. No wonder MP has got the Krishi Karman Award from the president three times in the last five years.

MP is a primarily agricultural state, with almost 70 per cent of its workforce engaged in agriculture, much above the all-India average of 55 per cent. Focusing on agriculture is not only good economics but also good politics. When the largest number gains from growth, it gives political legitimacy for further pushing the reform frontier.

But the high agri growth rates of MP have been challenged by former CM Digvijaya Singh, who claims that the numbers may be fudged. Prima facie, his doubt seems legitimate — no one is used to hearing such high growth numbers in agriculture. This made us dig a little deeper into the agricultural performance of the state and analyse it from both the input and output sides. The evidence largely supports the high growth numbers.

Look at the irrigation ratio, which increased from 30.6 per cent in 2004-05 to 41.2 per cent in 2013-14, an increase of 35 per cent in 10 years. Fertiliser consumption per hectare increased from 53.4 kg to 83 kg in 2014-15, an increase of 55 per cent. Tractor sales, which are reported by private companies and not by government, have increased from 28,500 in 2005-06 to 87,100 in 2014-15, a growth of more than 200 per cent. The seed replacement rate (SRR) for major crops has also increased substantially, leading to better productivity. The SRR for wheat, for example, increased from 8.8 per cent in 2004-05 to 27.2 per cent in 2013-14; for soybean, from 12.5 to 32.3 per cent; for gram, from 2.3 to 15.8 per cent; and for paddy, from 3.4 to 22.6 per cent. Today, MP is the largest producer of certified seeds in the country, producing 4.4 million quintals. There is, thus, ample evidence from the input side that points towards high growth rates.

Evidence from the output side also strongly validates high performance. The production of wheat increased from 7.2 million tonnes (MT) to 12.9 MT, an increase of 79 per cent. Soybean production increased from 3.7 MT in 2004-05 to 7.8 MT in 2012-13 but fell to 5.2 MT in 2013-14. The yields of all major crops have risen. The yield of rice has increased from 720 kg/ ha to 1,474 kg/ ha, of wheat from 1,735 kg/ ha to 2,405 kg/ ha, of soybean from 835 to 1,293 kg/ ha, and of gram from 928 kg/ ha to 1,219 kg/ ha, all between 2004-05 and 2013-14.

Apart from the growth in foodgrain and oilseeds output, even the horticulture and livestock sectors showed spectacular improvements. Milk production has increased by 75 per cent from 5.5 MT in 2004-05 to 9.6 MT in 2013-14, and meat production more than doubled in the same period. The production of horticulture crops increased from 1.2 MT in 2005-06 to 5.7 MT in 2013-14, a stupendous increase of 375 per cent.

What led to this transformation of agriculture in the state? Among the many measures taken, the one that stands out is the strong procurement system put in place for wheat. This incentivised farmers to increase production of wheat while improving the irrigation ratio. MP contributed only 2 per cent of the total wheat procurement in India in the triennium ending (TE) 2002-03. The contribution went up to 24 per cent in TE 2013-14. It is competing with Haryana and Punjab, and still has the potential to go forward.

There are several other factors driving agri-growth in the state but the most important is the leadership and its focus on agriculture. Chouhan has sworn to make agriculture in the state a profitable business. His first mission was to fix roads, power and irrigation. Now, he is focusing on agri-markets and crop insurance. In perishables, he wants to have milk and horticulture corridors, and is trying to plug the gaps in value chains. He is reportedly ready to open up the land lease markets and rationalise mandi taxes and commissions — steps in the right direction.

But 2015 has not been a good year for agriculture. Half the state has been hit by a back-to-back drought. There is no other CM that we know of who has sent 164 IAS, IPS and IFS officers to the field to talk to farmers, understand their problems and suggest solutions. This information was systematically distilled and plans based on it were vetted by experts and then announced for implementation by the CM. This raises hopes that farmers are not being left in the lurch during this crisis.

Would the prime minister take a leaf from Chouhan’s book and implement some of these lessons at an all-India level? Farmers are looking towards the national leadership with hope but, in the last 18 months, nothing tangible has resulted. Rural distress is deepening every day. This is a wake-up call.


Gulati is Infosys chair professor and Malhotra is a research assistant at Icrier, Delhi

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More From Ashok Gulati
  1. Toyotaa India
    Dec 7, 2015 at 4:06 am
    Good one Mr.Chauhan.......please contribute your best to the country's infrastructure...people will work and better their lives
    1. Haradhan Mandal
      Dec 7, 2015 at 10:30 am
      Good news for the people who care for farmers and rural (and poor) potions - who feed the country, save country from famines and imports (MAKE in INDIA). Credit must be given where it is due (to Shri Chauhan ji) . Shri Chauhan ji (the CM of MP) is UNUSUALLY a sober, reflective and humble person. But it (prosperity and fruits of development) must also reflect in the prosperity and development among the bottom of the pyramid. Having said that (and a discordant note) - much before it became a certain that Modi ji will be anointed for the PM candidates post from NDA, Nitish Kumarji (he and his Bihar Govt was part NDA then) and his achievement in Bihar also became a TALK of the 'TOWN'. I have seen FEW similar articles on 'runaway' GDP growth in BIHAR under Nitish Ji. There were floater balloons whether Nitish ji should be promoted as an NDA candidate for the PM's position. BUT I sincerely believe that SUCH success/success story , be it in Bihar or in MP, Be it under NDA /Chauhan Ji or JDU/Nitish Ji, it is all ways good for the ENTIRE country- specially when it is about agriculture sector /farmers/farm laborers and rural potion where 70% live and work. . CONGRATULATIONS to Shri Chauhan ji (whom I admire and respect a lot) and hope to read MANY MORE such good news from all over the country - irrespective of party color and let it be an example for all other states.
      1. K
        K SHESHU
        Dec 7, 2015 at 4:45 pm
        After a spate of vyapam scandals, some relief has to come from somewhere to boost MP chances of sustenance. Agriculture has flled the gap: specially after the tussle with Narmada embankment villagers protesting against raising the height of the dam. If the figures are true and there are no farmer suicides in that state, the centre should definitely take 'many leaves' out of MP book!!!
        1. anurag joshi
          Dec 7, 2015 at 7:19 am
          Very nice article. At least heard something good about MP and Shivraj.
          1. A
            Arun Sharma
            Dec 7, 2015 at 5:38 am
            Since agriculture is state subject and all BJP and allies ruled states are doing well for enhancing Agriculture growth and have achieved higher growth than others, other non BJP ruled states should also strive hard by implementing policies solving Agri problems unique to their states. States which were better off in this area when MP started reforming this sector may find now difficult to have same growth rate. Now another problem is to show same growth year after year. But more than centre it is state governments who has to take initiatives as MP did it when Centre was having Congress government.
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