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Study for Skoch Foundation debunks claim that Gujarat agriculture growth intensified during last decade

Counterview Desk
A recent study, titled “Are Disparities In Indian Agriculture Growing?”, by Gursharan Singh Kainth, Director, Guru Arjan Dev Institute of Development Studies, hsas glaringly exposed the “high growth” story of Gujarat agriculture. The senior academic has found that growth rate in productivity of agriculture, at constant prices of 2004-05, has actually gone down in the state over the two decades. It was 4.7 per cent in 1990-91 to 1999-2000. But it went down to 3.4 per cent in the next decade, 2000-01 to 2009-10. Kainth has further said that the growth rate per hectare agricultural productivity at constant prices (2004-05), too, went down from 5.07 per cent in 1999-2000 to 2.09 per cent in 2009-10.
The study, prepared for the prestigious Skoch Development Foundation’s Thinkers and Writers Forum, significantly adds that the per capita rural productivity in Gujarat went down from 4.8 per cent during the period between 1990-91 and 1999-2000 to a mere 1.3 per cent in the next decade, between 2000-01 and 2009-10.
These data come against the backdrop of latest Government of India data for the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-12), put out in “State of Indian Agriculture”, which show that the Gross State Domestic Product for Gujarat agriculture dipped to half – exactly 4.8 per cent per annum – of what it was from the previous period, 9.6 per ent. Worse, it was less than several other states, including Madhya Pradesh (7.6 per cent), Chhattisgarh (7.6 per cent), Rajasthan (7.4 per cent), Jharkhand (6 per cent), Karnataka (5.6 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (4.9 per cent) and Assam (4.9 per cent).
Year-wise figures, released by the Gujarat government in the Socio-Economic Review also suggest that volatility in agriculture had set in during the 11th five year plan. In 2007-08, Gujarat’s agriculture and allied sector grew by 7.48 per cent, but in the next year, 2008-09, it dipped into negative, minus ( — ) 7.41 per cent, and further into negative in 2009-10, minus ( — ) 0.51 per cent. For the two next year, it jumped into plus, and grew by 18.12 per cent and 5.70 per cent for 2010-11 and 2011-12 respectively.
While latest figures for 2012-13 have not been officially released, it is estimated the growth rate would further slip into a huge negative of more than minus ( — ) 13 per cent. There is reason to believe that volatility had set in despite good rainfall in all these years, with the exception of 2012-13.
The 11th Five Year Plan’s coefficient variation (CV, through which assesses the risk agriculture faces in high growth rate) was estimated at 2.4 per cent, higher than what it was in the previous five years. It is higher than all Indian states except for Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh , Uttarakhand and Bihar. Kerala’s risk factor for agriculture, calculated as CV, is in the negative, minus ( — ) 2.7 per cent, and all other states’ CV hovers between 1 and 2 per cent, suggesting their agriculture is less at risk from vagaries of nature than that of Gujarat. According to the document, anything higher than two per cent CV is risky.
These facts, say observers, should come as a shocker to some experts who had been praising Gujarat agriculture model as something that other states should follow. Writing in in 2009, three experts, Ashok Gulati, Tushaar Shah and Ganga Shreedhar, published a study, “Agriculture performance in Gujarat since 2000: Can it be a divadandi (lighthouse) for other states?” for the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), both world-renowned institutes, which argued out how Gujarat could achieve a growth rate that nearly touched double digit in the tenth five year plan period, thanks to massive infrastructure help from the state government.
The study does not seek to hide the fact that it was prepared after taking complete help from the Gujarat government. The authors have jotted down their specially gratefulness to Gujarat CM Narendra Modi’s water resources advisor BN Navlawala, and a well-known pro-Modi agriculturist at that time, ex-vice-chancellor of the Anand Agriculture University, NC Varsheneya, for their valuable “insights”.
The study pointed towards how, from 2000-01 to 2006-07, GSDP for agriculture grew by 9.6 percent per annum, when during the same period the corresponding Gross Domestic Product for agriculture at the all-India level grew by only 2.9 percent. “Thus Gujarat has grown more than 1.5 times above its Eleventh Plan growth target, and three times the all India figure”, the study declared, wondering, “This stellar performance of Gujarat in agriculture raises the question: Can Gujarat be a divadandi (lighthouse) for other states to follow?”
Calling it a “success story” for other states to emulate, the authors further argued that Gujarat’s high volatility or risk rate – calculated as CV – had gone down considerably. CV during 1980-81, the academicsI said, was very high, 7.4 per cent. In 1992-93 to 1999-2000, the risk factor went down to 4.3 per cent. And finally, between 2000-01 and 2006-07, it further went down to 2.2 per cent. The authors argued, whatever volatility that remained was “partly due to Gujarat’s high dependence on rainfall – 64 per cent of the area was rain fed, which was marginally higher than the all-India figure, i.e., 60 per cent. The authors argued, whatever volatility that remained was “partly due to Gujarat’s high dependence on rainfall – 64 per cent of the area was rain fed, which was marginally higher than the all-India figure, i.e., 60 per cent.
With fresh facts coming it, especially on VC, it would be interesting to know what these scholars would have to say.

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