Perhaps the irony of the whole Madhya Pradesh election campaign was when Rahul Gandhi attacked the Madhya Pradesh State Government over the issues of farmers. It is known that Madhya Pradesh is a model state for farmers and the farming industry in the country. As Madhya Pradesh is going to vote on November 28, 2018, consistent efforts have been put in by the opposition to weave a negative narrative in the state, which does not seem to stick because the facts are strong enough to counter the negativity.
Agriculture growth in Madhya Pradesh between the period 2005-06 and 2014-15 was around 9.7% per annum. This is the highest growth rate registered in agriculture by any major state of India that sustained over this ten-year period. However, the average annual growth of agriculture in the last five years is around 18%. There is no parallel to this success story in the agriculture sector in the country. Even Punjab did not grow at this rate during the green revolution period!
The state’s gross state domestic product (GSDP) in allied areas i.e. animal husbandry has grown from Rs 8,976 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 33,751 crore in 2017 and in fisheries from Rs 650 crore in 2012-13 to 1,805 crore in 2017. There has been a record increase in the milk production from 6.4 million tonnes in 2006-07 to 10.8 million tonnes in 2014-15.
From Soil Health to Irrigation
Apart from focusing on agricultural production, the state is also paying attention to improving the soil health. Distribution of Soil Health Cards and soil testing is being constantly monitored at the state level, which has resulted in the distribution of more than 90 lakh Soil Health cards. Soil health is fundamental to maintaining the eco-functions of soils and is extremely vital for agriculture to flourish.
Madhya Pradesh had a maximum of 25.82 lakh hectares under organic farming in the country in 2014, which was about half of the total organic farming area in India. The state’s contribution to organic farming now stands at 40% of the total national output.
Along with that, there has been a massive spread of irrigation. The state has witnessed 5 times increase in the irrigation network from 7.5 lakh hectare in 2005 to 40 lakh hectares in 2017, which resonates well with the resolve and industriousness of farmers of the state. The efficiency and effectiveness of the state’s irrigation network could be understood from one such example where an engineer-maintained list of 4000 contact numbers is now being maintained for random check regarding the flow of water or leakage. Moreover, the administration has also taken up water conservation and ground-water recharge in addition to the expansion of irrigation coverage through tube wells.
Helping Farmers in a Holistic Way
Madhya Pradesh is the first state to provide zero percent interest loans. Furthermore, it is also a first state where if a farmer takes a loan of Rs 1 lakh then he just has to pay back only Rs 90,000!
Last mile power connectivity for agriculture has seen a sharp increase, further supplemented by a separate rural feeder power line. This has resulted in an increase in the total power consumption by the agriculture sector in Madhya Pradesh to around 33.7%, which is much higher than the national average of 20.8%.
The state has ensured better access to rural agriculture markets through improved rural road connectivity. Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) coverage has increased from 3,202 km in the year 2003 to 75,000 km in the year 2017, in addition to an additional 15,000 km through Mukhyamantri Gram Sadak Yojana. Due stress has been given on farm mechanization, which has led to soaring tractor sales, as tractor sales achieved a record of 87 thousand in the year 2015.
Apart from that, some novel schemes have been initiated to give a new momentum to the food processing sector by attracting investments to establish more than 500 food processing industries in the state.
Once the irrigation cover is expanded for wheat cultivation, acreage under the crop has increased significantly. Consequently, the government has strategized to improve the supply chain of wheat by re-modelling the procurement system through digitization and initiation of ‘e-Uparajan’ created a digital connectivity to support farmers which is essentially about re-modeling the wheat procurement system through digitization and increase storage capacity.
Even in such a grand picture, it is natural that some section of farmers may face problems like crop loss. Here the central scheme, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) has played a crucial role in addressing the issue. As many as 6,37,428 farmers have been benefitted under PMFBY in the Kharif season in the year 2017. The insurance payment under this programme is over Rs 5000 crore. This, coupled with the state government programme Mukhymantri Krishak Samruddhi Yojana, disburses a specific cash incentive over and above the minimum support price, which largely addresses the problem of drought and crop loss.
The Crumbling of the Opposition’s only Narrative
Madhya Pradesh fares well in parameters like road, electricity and other basic amenities (as shown in the below infographic). Various central schemes of the Modi Government have further contributed to the overall development of the state.
The only narrative that the opposition has tried to build is about farm and rural distress. But, the huge growth in agriculture as discussed above will eventually result in a substantial reduction in rural poverty. Thus, the BJP Government in Madhya Pradesh is going in front of people with a convincing record, consequently crumbling the narrative presented by the opposition parties.