An Interview of Dr. J.K. Bajaj
Madhya Pradesh has created history by posting the highest ever agricultural growth rate. As per the figures for year 2013-14 released by the Central Statistical Organization (CSO), Madhya Pradesh has clocked a 24.99 per cent agricultural growth rate. This includes animal husbandry sector too. Notably, Madhya Pradesh enjoys an enviable distinction of being bestowed the prestigious Krishi Karman Award by the Government of India for the last two years in a row in recognition of its outstanding performance in agriculture sector. This rate was 20.16 per cent in year 2012-13 and 19.85 per cent in year 2011-12 in the State.
Noted demographer Shri J.K. Bajaj, who has done an extensive research on the improvement of agricultural status of Madhya Pradesh in past 10-12 years, talks about his research and observation in this interview with Shubhendu Anand.
What made you choose Madhya Pradesh as the state for your research over other Indian states?
Madhya Pradesh is a predominantly agricultural state. It is the foremost state in production of pulses and oilseeds and contributes one-fourth of the national production of these. It also contributes one-fifth of the total production of cereals. In the production of gram and soybean, the state is far ahead of others; as much as 40 percent of the national production of gram and 60 percent of soybean comes from here. The state has a share of 20 percent in the national production of masur.
Madhya Pradesh has seen extraordinary transformation in agriculture in the last 10-12 years. The agriculture there was growing slowly even in the earlier period but the period around 2002 was actually a period of great decline in agriculture. But after 2002 the kind of change in all parameters of agriculture that we have seen is extraordinary. When you look at the graphs they look spectacular the way the area under cultivation, the area under irrigation, production of different crops, the way they have gone up. Madhya Pradesh seems to have undergone a green revolution in the last 10-12 years. The state is said to have skipped the first green revolution and for long it was being said that Madhya Pradesh needs to go through a green revolution. There was slow growth of agriculture except for the 2002 period when there was a decline. But there was not a revolution. Finally we have seen a revolutionary grown of agriculture in Madhya Pradesh.
What have been your research findings? Could you please throw some light on it?
Madhya Pradesh is one of the more important agricultural states in the country. If you look at the census of 2001, in the state nearly 70 percent of the workers are engaged in agriculture. Only Chhattisgarh and Bihar are the states where the percentage of workers in agriculture is larger than that of Madhya Pradesh. On an all India basis this number is declining. What is more important is that in Madhya Pradesh, according to the data that I have, agriculture contributes to 22 percent in Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) which is low compared to the proportion of workers involved in this sector but compared to all-India average it is very high. At the all-India level only around 12 percent of GDP comes from agriculture. If you see in the last ten years the share of agriculture in GSDP is declining everywhere except in Madhya Pardesh where it is more or less steady at 22 percent. And that is the indication of the kind of growth that is taking place in the field of agriculture in Madhya Pradesh. Over 10 years the proportion of workers in agriculture has declined which means that the average worker is actually doing better. While everywhere the economic status of workers engaged in agriculture is declining, it seems from the data that in Madhya Pradesh their status is actually improving. And you can see this if you go to villages of Madhya Pradesh. You hear people saying that their situation has improved. It is very rare in India. Much of the prosperity that you see in Madhya Pradesh and the condition of workers in agriculture improving is because the improvement in the agricultural sector in the state.
Could you please share some significant data with us?
The following is the comparison of different parameters of agricultural development in the state:
|Gross Cropped Area||18 million hectare||22 million hectare|
|Gross Irrigated Area||4.5 million hectare||7.3 million hectare|
|Production of Wheat||5.5 million tonne||10.9 million tonne|
|Production of Gram||1.9 million tonne||2.8 million tonne|
|Production of Soybean||3.3 million tonne||6.4 million tonne|
In the date above you see that gross cropped area and production of different crops has almost doubled. This is largely due to the increase in gross irrigated area. This kind of sharp change in agriculture is what forms the basis of prosperity in the agrarian society. The increase in gross cropped area means the farmers are doing intense agriculture. Instead of one crop, they are now harvesting two crops from the same piece of land. And that’s largely because of irrigation. It simply means the more irrigation you provide the more production of crops you get.
Because of the increase in production of wheat the per capita production of wheat in the state has increased to nearly 150 kg in 2009-2012 from 85 kg in 2000-2003.
There is no other state that has transformed agriculture so drastically.
What have been your findings in the allied sectors of agriculture?
The horticulture sector is also growing in Madhya Pradesh at 10% per annum. At present, the horticulture area covers 6% of the total sown area. Milk production has also gone up from 5.28 million tonne (2001-02) to 8.84 million tonne (2012-13). Similarly egg production has also gone up from 756.5 million to (2001-02) to 871.2 million (2012-13). At the same pacefish production has also gone up from 47,457 tonne (2001-02) to 85,235 tonne (2012-13). It went up further to 96,257 tonne in the year 2013-14.
Do you think it is justified to call Madhya Pradesh a ‘BIMARU’ state anymore?
Madhya Pradesh can’t be called a BIMARU state anymore. My personal feeling is that in this process of improvement in agriculture there should not be any slackening. If the state keeps the same trend of growth in agriculture for next 10 years Madhya Pradesh would be one of the more prosperous states in the country.
What are your suggestions to the state government following your research?
I feel agriculture should be given due attention. I am not saying that there should not be focus on trade and manufacturing, but such a focus should not be at the cost of agriculture.
The steps taken by the Madhya Pradesh government in improving the agricultural status and irrigation in the state should be talked about. My worry is that so much is being done but hardly anything is being talked about. People don’t know about this miracle that is happening in Madhya Pradesh.