Agricultural sector contracts: Can Maharashtra government double farmers’ income in 5 years? | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Agricultural sector contracts: Can Maharashtra government double farmers’ income in 5 years?

Amid hailstorms, unseasonal rains and the pink bollworm attack, the state’s agricultural sector has contracted by 8.3% in the current fiscal year, shows the Economic Survey 2017-18.

mumbai Updated: Mar 09, 2018 00:45 IST
Surendra P Gangan
With agricultural sector clocking a negative 8.3%, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has his task cut out to improve farmers’ income.
With agricultural sector clocking a negative 8.3%, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has his task cut out to improve farmers’ income.

Amid hailstorms, unseasonal rains and the pink bollworm attack, the state’s agricultural sector has contracted by 8.3% in the current fiscal year, stated the Economic Survey 2017-18, which was tabled in the state legislature on Thursday.

The drastic drop comes at a time when the government is boasting to double income of farmers in the next five years.

The fall in the production of oilseeds, pulses and cereals during kharif and rabi seasons may prove alarming (kharif crops are sown during monsoon and rabi during winter). Despite the marginal increase in the area under cultivation to 1.50 crore hectares from 1.49 crore hectares, the overall production declined.

Among kharif crops, cereal production dropped by 4%, pulses by 46% and oilseeds by 15% in the current fiscal, as estimated in the report. A big drop in the market prices of tur or pigeon peas during the last kharif season reduced their production by 53%. This also brought down area under cultivation for tur. The production of moong and cash crop soyabean fell by 37% and 15%.

The pink bollworm attack on 42.17 lakh hectares of cotton crop brought down the production by 44%.

Similarly, the production of rabi crops too fell in 2017-18. The rabi cereals also dropped by 39% ,pulses by 4% and oilseeds by 73%, the survey stated.

The negative growth may scuttle the state government’s aim to double farmers’ income by 2022. During the Magnetic Maharashtra summit held in Mumbai two weeks ago, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said his government wanted to make the state a $1trillion economy by 2025, with a sizable contribution from the agricultural sector. His government talked of achieving a positive growth in 2016-17 from the negative growth during the erstwhile Congress-led government.

Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said, “The growth has dipped in agriculture owing to less rainfall — 84.3% of the normal rainfall and 94% the previous year.”

The survey said 39.47 lakh hectares of land was irrigated till June 30, 2017 compared to 31.37 lakh hectares in 2014-15. The irrigation potential creation reached 49.62%.

“I think a drop in production of pulses is owing to falling prices, while pest attack hit cotton crop. I am surprised with the contradiction because when production falls, prices go up. More alarming is the absence of a sound mechanism to procure produce at the assured minimum support price,” said rural economy expert Milind Murugkar.

The Opposition slammed the government over the contraction in the agricultural sector.

Leader of opposition in the legislative council Dhananjay Munde said, “The state government has been claiming to have spent Rs1.50 lakh crore in the agricultural sector in the last three years. But the obvious question is why it does reflect in the growth.”

The state disbursed Rs9,709 crore in short-term crop loans in 2017-18 against Rs15,001 crore previous year.