Grain of truth

Print edition : September 26, 2008

The Bansagar Inter-State multipurpose hydroelectric project on the Sone river.-A.M. FARUQUI

Agricultural production in the State reaches record levels, giving a boost to agribusiness.

AGRICULTURE is the mainstay of the Madhya Pradesh economy. As much as 49 per cent of its landmass is cultivable and 74.73 per cent of its people depend directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihood. The sectors share in the States economy is 31 per cent. Irrigation has topped the governments priority list. In the last four and a half years, an additional irrigation potential for 13 lakh hectares has been created.

Irrigation projects, such as Bansagar (Rewa district), Maan (Dhar district), Madikheda (Shivpuri district), Jobat (Jhabua) and Upper Beda (Khargone district), which were lying incomplete for several years, have been completed.

Work on the Narmada Valley project has been intensified. Until 2003, an irrigation potential for 55,000 ha and hydel power generation capacity of 90 MW had been created from the Narmada Valley project. The present government has created an irrigation potential for 1.53 lakh ha and a generation capacity of 2,356 MW.

A World Bank-aided project for water sector restructuring has been taken up at a cost of Rs.1,919 crore in 30 districts to modernise 158 irrigation projects. The State has taken the initiative to link the Ken and Betwa rivers by signing an agreement with the Central government and the Uttar Pradesh government. It has also signed an agreement with Rajasthan for a project to link the Parvati, Newaj and Kalisind rivers to the Chambal. These rivers contribute significantly to the irrigation potential of the State.

The net sown area in 2004-05 was estimated at about 12.47 million ha. The productivity of major crops such as wheat, rice and pulses has been good. The State enjoys the unique distinction of being the largest producer of oilseeds in the country. Also, over 25 per cent of the countrys pulses and 40 per cent of grams are grown here.

The State is also known for the commercially favoured varieties of wheat and potato, besides being the largest producer of garlic and coriander. The government has taken measures to invite investments in the sector. Over 100 agricultural farms with an area of over 20,000 acres (8,000 ha) are available on lease to investors. Massive wastelands and government farms ranging in size from 50 acres (20 ha) to 3,000 acres (1,200 ha) are available for partial investment. Since Independence, the introduction of high-yielding varieties of crops and the use of chemical fertilizers have brought about a revolution in crop production. Foodgrains production reached 14.1 million tonnes in 2004-05 after Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh. This shows the State has attained self-sufficiency in foodgrains.

The major crops grown in Madhya Pradesh are paddy, wheat, maize, jowar, gram, tur, urad, moong, soybean, groundnut, mustard, and so on. Cash crops such as cotton and sugarcane are also grown in a few districts. Horticultural crops grown in the State include potato, onion and garlic, apart from papaya, banana, oranges, mango and grapes. Medicinal plants are also cultivated in certain areas.

Good irrigation facilities are an integral part of the States thriving agriculture sector. The major perennial rivers of the State include the Mahi, the Narmada, the Tapi, the Chambal, the Betwa, the Sone, the Wainganga, the Ken and the Pench. These rivers are the main source of irrigation. In terms of area, it has been estimated that Madhya Pradesh has the potential to irrigate 60.9 lakh ha. Small tanks, dams and tubewells are other sources of irrigation. The total annual usable groundwater is 4.86 million ha metre.

Madhya Pradesh is the fourth largest producer of wheat, accounting for 12 per cent of the total production in the country. Two varieties of wheat, Sharbati and Durum, produced in the State are well known for their quality. The State is the largest producer of pulses, accounting for 20 per cent of the total pulses production in the country. It also tops the list of oilseed producers, accounting for approximately 85 per cent of the total soyabean production in the country.

The State has earned the distinction of having an area of 4,02,851 ha under horticulture crops. It is the largest producer of garlic, accounting for 37 per cent of the total production in the country and is the second largest producer of coriander. Among vegetables, Malwa potato is popular among potato chip producers. The States share in pea production is 15 per cent.

The State has a large bovine population and is the third largest producer of milk after Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

Inland fishery provides an opportunity for investments and employment, given the fact that the State has 3.9 lakh ha of water area for development of pisciculture and an additional 20,000 square km of riparian area.

Bountiful agricultural production has given a tremendous boost to agribusiness in the State, if the memoranda of understanding (MoUs) signed recently for agro projects worth billions of rupees are any indication.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhans assurance to investors that they will not face bureaucratic delay has started yielding results.

The State signed 20 MoUs involving a total investment of Rs.6,200 crore for setting up various agro-based industries, said a senior Agriculture Department official.

The MoUs were signed between the investors and various undertakings of the State government in the presence of Chouhan during the first agribusiness meet organised in May last year.

The understandings reached on the occasion pertain to Ratanjot farming, development of barren land, establishment of sugar factories, setting up of food processing units, taking up agricultural research, organic food processing, seed production and potato cultivation and its processing, the official said.

The MoUs between the Madhya Pradesh Agro Industries Corporation and the Mumbai-based Ruchi Soya Industries Limited involves an investment of Rs.1,000 crore. An agreement with the New Delhi-based Mission Biofuels India Private Limited for jatropha plantation involves an investment of Rs.500 crore.

Two MoUs for Rs.400 crore each were signed for rearing animals and setting up a cheese plant by the New Delhi-based Hind Agro Industries Limited and Daisy Agrotech. MoUs involving investments ranging between Rs.20 crore and Rs.1,000 crore were signed in various fields relating to agriculture.

As many as 150 representatives of renowned industrial houses such as the Birla group, the Adani group, the Bharti Mittal group, the Bikano group, Reliance Fresh, Hindustan Agro and ITC participated in the meet.

The Chief Minister also announced the setting up of a forum for regular dialogue between farmers and entrepreneurs for the farmers to get a reasonable price for their produce. Effective measures would be taken to make agriculture a highly profitable occupation and to ensure that farmers enjoy the fruit of development in the farm sector, Chouhan said.

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