Foodgrain productivity of Gujarat lower than national avg: NABARD

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The foodgrain productivity of Gujarat for 2019-20 is lower than the national average, stated National Bank For Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) in its “State Focus Paper” for Gujarat for the year 2022-23.

“Though the productivity of most of the major food crops in the state has increased during the last decade, it is lower than that in agriculturally progressive states like Punjab and Tamil Nadu, and that of countries like China and Brazil,” stated the country’s apex development bank in its focus paper .

The focus paper which pegged the credit potential for priority sector in Gujarat at Rs 2.48 lakh crore was unveiled by chief minister Bhupendra Patel on Tuesday.

“Compared to the productivity of foodgrain in Punjab (4419 kilogram/hectare), Haryana (3891 kg/hectare) or agriculture intensive states of Andhra Pradesh (3038 kg/hectare) and Tamil Nadu (2988 kg/ hectare), the productivity in Gujarat is 2236 kg/hectare which is less than the all India food grain productivity of 2325 kg/hectare,” the focus paper read.

The NABARD has asked Gujarat to take concerted efforts to “produce more from less land by utilising advanced technologies”.

The paper is an aggregation of the credit potential estimated by the bank for all 33 districts and the infrastructural gaps that can be bridged by the state government.

The bank in chapter three of the paper titled “NABARD’s perception on the development perspective of the state”, points out that the productivity of wheat and rice in the state is less compared to Punjab, productivity of maize, tobacco and cotton is less compared to Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Punjab respectively. Similarly, Gujarat grows less Bajra per hectare compared to Madhya Pradesh.

Despite the critical evaluation, data shows that Gujarat has higher productivity of 1204 kilogram per hectare for pulses. This is higher than the national average of 806 kilogram per hectare.

Apart from using advanced technologies to improve per hectare productivity, NABARD also asked Gujarat to “tie-up for mutual cooperation” with states having higher crop yield. It also suggested agricultural universities in state to share scientific knowledge and innovative technologies to boost productivity.

Pointing out that 68.3 per cent of the farmers in Gujarat were small and medium farmers (having land holdings upto two hectares) NABARD stated that only 43.5 per cent of the small and marginal farmers were covered through institutional credit for agricultural purposes.

“Inadequate financing to small and marginal farmers from institutional sources forces these group of farmers to depend upon the non-institutional sources of finance for their agricultural operations. This leads to instances of exploitation by money lenders, either by way of high rate of interest or distress selling by farmers,” the paper stated adding that the banks in Gujarat have issued Kisan Credit Cards (KCC) to only 49.7 per cent of the total 53.2 lakh agricultural land holdings in Gujarat.

Highlighting the practise of sharecropping or “Bhag-kheti” in Gujarat where migrant agricultural workers till land held by landlords, NABARD states, ” In absence of formal agreement between landlord and the farmers or sharecroppers, there are issues in institutional financial agreements leading to high cost of borrowing from informal sources”.

“At the same time, due to crop failure on account of natural disaster, such farmers are deprived of benefits of crop insurance. The state government may consider to introduce a scheme similar to Loan Eligibility Cards introduced by Government of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana,” it said.

Among the other infrastructure gaps pointed out by the state focus paper, are “timely availability of quality seeds, fertiliser and other inputs.”

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