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HindustanTimes Fri,26 Dec 2014

North-East set to be India's next food bowl

Zia Haq, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 27, 2013
First Published: 23:35 IST(27/1/2013) | Last Updated: 23:37 IST(27/1/2013)

A string of previously laggard states are poised to overtake Punjab and Haryana, India's traditional grain bowl, as the new powerhouses of food production, driven largely by - surprise - state support.

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While privatisation is often thought desirable for key sectors of the economy, second-generation "green revolutions" across several states demonstrate that government initiatives can still turn things around.

India had raised the annual funding for a "green revolution in eastern India" from Rs. 400 crore to Rs. 1,000 crore for 2012-13. The results are showing.

Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Bihar have posted over 10 million tonnes of food output for the first time, with Madhya Pradesh picking a top central award recently.

Each of these states were awarded R2 crore for highest overall foodgrain output, while they were also given R1 crore in the individual crop category.

With the gradual weakening of the 60s green revolution, which had transformed India into a nation that could feed itself, planners knew it was time to turn the foot-dragging eastern part into the next food bowl.

Rising consumption and flattening yields in the country's breadbasket (Punjab and Haryana) has necessitated a renewed "green revolution", especially in newer states. Northeast, with its fertile soil and abundant rainfall, could be the country's next agricultural powerhouse, trends show.

Nagaland and Manipur achieved farm output of nearly 1 million tonne this year.

Under individual crop category for rice, Bihar outperformed even big states. In wheat, pulses and coarse cereals, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh have nearly matched Haryana's production.

Roughly two years of work has paid off for Bihar, which has doubled its rice output from 3 million tonnes to about 6 million tonnes, while Jharkhand has trebled production from 1.1 million tonnes to 3.3 million tonnes.

Overall, the eastern states have produced 7 million more tonnes of rice, an official said.


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