But increasing India'sirrigation potential by 40 million hactares, in 16 years means an annual growth rate of 2.5 million hectares which is much higher than the growth rate of 1.5 million hectares achieved so far. This low growth rate of 1.5 million hectares has been due to the drastic reduction of over 50 per cent in the outlay for irrigation?from 20 per cent to 9 per cent of the Plan outlay? made in accordance with the low priority given to agriculture in the Nehruvian model of growth adopted in the Second Plan (1956-61).
It is important to note that India'stotal production of foodgrains during the period of first two Plans had exceeded the targets. This was due to high priority to irrigation in the First Plan.
But, the period of 18 years after the Second Plan was the darkest period of India'sagriculture. Total foodgrain production during each of the three Plans in this period had shown a deficit equal to 12 per cent of the target. The Ninth Plan had a target of producing 1,100 million tonnes of foodgrains in five years, but the actual production was only 1,018 million tonnes which is 9 per cent less than the target.
The annual growth rate of foodgrain production had fallen from 3.2 per cent per annum during the 1950s to 1.7 per cent during the 1960s and was 2.1 per cent during the 1970s. This fall in the growth rate of foodgrain production was due to two reasons:
* More than 50 per cent reduction in outlay for irrigation in 1956.
* Large imports of highly subsidised wheat from USA under PL-480 agreement signed in May 1955.
The high priority to irrigation after the drought of 1965-67 resulted in a faster growth of irrigation, and, consequently, the growth rate of foodgrain production rose to 2.9 per cent during the 1980s. But, a slower growth of irrigation in the nineties again brought down the growth rate of foodgrain production to 1.7 per cent, which is the lowest growth rate so far. And, that is the main reason for the call for a second green revolution in India.
The low growth rate of foodrain production is due to the low growth rate of per hectare produc-tion, i.e. the yield rate of crops. In 1998, our yield rate of wheat was one-third of that for France and UK and was less than half of that for Egypt; for paddy, it was nearly one-third of that in Egypt and less than half of that in USA, Japan and China; for maize, it was nearly one-sixth of that in Italy, nearly one-fifth of that in USA, France and Canada and nearly one-fourth of that in Hungary and Argentina; for groundnut, it was nearly one-third of that for USA, China, Japan and Argentina.
India has the second largest arable land in the world, after USA; the largest irrigated land in the world; the oldest history of cultivation of crops; and the largest diversity of land and climate in the world. In spite of these advantages, we have not been able to achieve a proper balanced and sustainable growth in agriculture, which is necessary for removing poverty from India. It is a serious reflection on our planning and its priorities.
For raising the level of foodgrains production to 300 million tonnes by 2020, we have to raise the growth rate of irrigation to 2.5 million hectares per annum and for that, the government has to raise the outlay for irrigation from 6 per cent to atleast 9 per cent.
For raising the level of foodgrains production to 300 million tonnes by 2020, we have to raise the growth rate of irrigation to 2.5 million hectares per annum and for being able to do that, the government has to raise the outlay for irrigation from 6 per cent to at least 9 per cent.
The drastic reduction in the outlay for irrigation in 1956 was the biggest folly of India'splanning and that has been the root cause of most of our problems and failures in removing unemployment and poverty.
The test of sincerity of the government for doing something for agriculture growth will lie in how much increase is made in the outlay for agriculture.