THE new president of the Bharatiya Janata party, Shri Nitin Gadkari, has taken several innovative measures aimed at revitalising the Party. Being a man of the masses one suggests he pays very special attention to agriculture which is actually in a dire strait in the country today in spite of claims of launching of a second Green Revolution.
It is not generally realised how precarious is India’s food grains situation today in the aftermath of the drought during the monsoon season in 2009. Actually, statistically speaking, one can state without fear of contradiction that the production of foodgrains in India at the end of the current agricultural year in June 2010 (agricultural year is from July 1 to June 30) will not be very different from the total production of 209.8 million tonnes (mt) in the year 1999-2000.
One will come to the disturbing conclusion that India had not advanced even one step in the production of foodgrains in the last ten years.
Well, this is not substantially true because during these last ten years, there have been years when production had gone up considerably. However, these high productions are invariably linked to the quantum of the south-west monsoon rainfall. Higher the rainfall, greater is the production of foodgrains. (We are not touching other agricultural produce now).
When the new millennium and new decade began in January 2000, foodgrains production was as high as 209.8 million tonnes (mt) in the year 99-00.However the very next year, when the monsoon rainfall was limited to only 91 per cent of the Long Period Average (LPA—there is no provision for “normal” rainfall among meteorologists), production had gone down to 196.8 mt. in the year 00-01
Since rainfall had been again 91 per cent of LPA, one had expected production to be less than 200 mt. However, thanks to the efforts by farmers, the actual production in 01-02 was as high as 212.9 mt.. Luck was not with India the next year when it faced a severe drought with rainfall registering only 81 per cent of LPA. Consequently, production of foodgrains too had suffered, it being only 174.8 mt in 02-03.
India was fortunate the very next year (03-04) with 102 per cent rainfall, and foodgrains production rising by almost 40 mt to 213.2 mt. Unfortunately, rainfall was only 87 per cent of the LPA in 2004-05, resulting in the production of only 198.4 mt.
In 05-06, rainfall was 99 per cent of LPA .The result was production at 208.6 mt. In 2006-07, precipitation was once again 99 per cent of LPA. Foodgrains production rose to 217,28 mt as a consequence.
Rainfall registered as high as 105 per cent of LPA in 2007. Production of foodgrains too kept pace with the high rainfall, production rising to 230.78 mt. Rainfall in 2008 monsoon was high once again, and production rose to 233.9 mt according to the fourth advance estimate. The final figure for 08-09 will be known in February according to normal practices. However one cannot be too sure that the Ministry will publish the latest figures in February in view of the effect of the drought in 2009. However, it is unlikely that the production in 2009-10 will be very high, maybe it will near the figure of 209 mt, the same as in the year 1999-2000. This is a tremendous set back for the country.
It is necessary in this context for the BJP to keep track of agriculture because if production and productivity of crops do not increase with time, the number of Indians already going to bed hungry every night which is now 27 million according to FAO figures will increase.
A BJP cell for Agriculture can keep track of these developments and take suitable actions on them. Besides, agriculture is a State subject according to the Constitution and there are more than half a dozen states in which the BJP is in power by itself or in alliance. Such a cell can keep under its watch the development of agriculture in such states and keep a tab on the performance of these government in question.
Several years ago, a proposal was made in the BJP to set up a cell on agriculture. The idea was opposed on the ground that there was already a Kisan Morcha in the party. This is an erroneous concept, one hopes Shri Nitin Gadkari will agree to this proposal and take necessary action in this regard.
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