Patna, (Bihar Times): May sound unbelieveable
nevertheless true. With 4.4 per cent post-1990 Bihar
registered the fastest agriculture growth rate in the
country. Ironically Punjab slipped into the leaguer of
least-growing states. High fruit and vegetable
production boosted agriculture in Bihar.
According to a recent study done by Prof Gurmail Singh
of Department of Economics, Punjab University,
Chandigarh, Punjab has slipped to the 14th slot in
farm growth measured in 17 states, while Bihar has
topped the list.
Punjab chief minister, Parkash Singh Badal, while
talking to a business daily, admitted that his state
has witnessed stagnation in agriculture with a mere
one per cent growth.
He said that even though two per cent farmers of
Punjab contribute 50 per cent foodgrains for the
central pool, they have been denied remunerative
prices for their produce by the Centre. This
notwithstanding the fact that his party, Akali Dal,
was an important constituent of the National
Democratic Alliance, which ruled at the Centre for six
long years during this period.
The Punjab chief minister is of the view that till the
price of produce was linked with the price index,
growth in agriculture would continue to stagnate or
show a negative trend. He said the fate of the farming community was being decided by the Centre, while
states were being kept out of the price fixing
The Punjab government, according to him, had chalked
out a comprehensive programme to improve soil health
of agricultural land. Besides, new varieties of seeds
were being provided and new techniques of farming and
irrigation were being encouraged. Rupees 4,000 crore
would be spent on the modernization of canals.
Dr Singh’s study gives emphasis on impact of
liberalization. It blames soil and technology fatigue,
unfavourable weather and surge in import of edible oil
and other commodities in the post-WTO period for
dragging Punjab down. After maintaining a steady rate
of over four per cent per annum for close to three
decades, agricultural growth crashed to a low of 1.1
per cent during the 1990s. Population growth in
agriculture brought about virtual stagnation of farm
incomes for about 15 years. Efforts for
diversification notwithstanding, the wheat-paddy cycle
has intensified in the state.
Though the study did not take into account the
sociological factor responsible for the rise of
agriculture products in Bihar there is no denying the
fact that empowerment of the farming castes, mostly
backwards, in the post-1990 years and the occupational
shift and migration of surplus population to the urban
jobs have contributed to this big change in the state.