Gujarat’s agro-economy stands out due to its market orientation for ensuring fair returns to farmers.

Punjab and Haryana have been the flag-bearers of India’s Green Revolution. Adoption of high-yielding seeds of wheat and rice, supported by extensive irrigation and Government’s price support mechanism, has ensured prosperity to the farming community. The structure of agro-economy in several other States such as Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, has been on similar lines. In contrast, Gujarat’s agro-economy stands out due to its market orientation for ensuring fair returns to farmers.

Gujarat’s agricultural and allied sector has outshined its peers in the last decade by clocking an average annual growth of 11 per cent, compared to an all-India average of 3 per cent between 2001-02 and 2011-12. The agriculture and allied sector has grown as rapidly as the State’s widely acclaimed manufacturing sector during the last decade, although agriculture’s relative contribution to the State’s output has shrunk. Agriculture contributed 11 per cent to the State domestic product in 2011-12 against 17 per cent in 2001-02, as the relative contribution of manufacturing and services sector increased from 37 per cent and 45 per cent in 2001-02 to 41 per cent and 46 per cent by 2011-12.

A healthy combination of private and public sector initiatives has ensured stable agricultural growth in the State compared to the previous two decades when agricultural growth was volatile and manufacturing and services flourished due to a strong industrial policy and private initiatives. The State’s agriculture is dominated by non-food crops such as cotton, groundnut, cumin, fennel and tobacco.

High productivity of non-food crops in the State has ensured good produce. Oilseed productivity was 1,600 kg per hectare in 2011-12, nearly 470 kg more than the all-India average, and higher than yield recorded for Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan — the two States which produce more oilseed than Gujarat.

Gujarat is the leader by production and yield of groundnut and castor seed. To add to the sector’s performance is the strong growth in food grain production since 2000. Marked growth has been observed in case of wheat with production having increased from 1.1 million tonnes in 2001-02 to 4.2 million tonnes in 2010-11. Introduction of Bt cotton in 2002 played a major role in scaling up the value of the fibre’s output by 114 per cent within a year spurred by high-yield and demand. Gujarat produced 120 lakh bales of 170 kg each of cotton in 2011-12, making it the largest producer amongst States and a reliable supplier of raw material to the textile industry. Cotton boom in the last decade brought prosperity to the farmers, but intensified vulnerability from global economic downturn and unstable trade policies. To generate demand within the State and enhance realisation to cotton farmers, the State Government has introduced schemes to promote textile industry under the Textile Policy 2012. Gujarat’s 1,600-km long coastline has ensured availability of commercial varieties of marine fish such as pomfret and shrimp and they constitute 88 per cent of State’s fish production. The State earned foreign exchange worth Rs 2,534 crore in 2011-12 through the export of 198,650 tonnes of fish and fish products. High-value horticulture products have been another source of growth. State’s success in horticulture crops is again led by strong crop productivity.

For instance, the State’s yield of onion was 24,421 kg per hectare in 2010-11, substantially higher than yield of 11,819 kg per hectare in Maharashtra, which is the largest producer of onion. The State contributes nearly a tenth to India’s fruit output (by volume) and ranks amongst the top five vegetable producers (by volume) in the country. Major fruits grown in Gujarat are banana, mango, citrus and sapota.

Operation Flood

The livestock sector has been a stable performer since Operation Flood of 1970s laid the foundation for extensive procurement of milk by producers’ co-operative unions in each district and established dairy product processing centres. There are 17 co-operative dairy plants in the State with an operating capacity of 125 lakh litres of milk a day. Expanded reach to the urban market has made inroads for contract farming in parts of rural Gujarat. More notably, few private players have contract farms oriented to meet overseas demand for fruits, vegetables, cotton, spices and sesame.

(This article was published on May 24, 2013)
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