Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 14:
While the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) government in Odisha is trying to squeeze as much mileage as possible out of the Krishi Karman Puraskar it had received from the Centre for ‘record foodgrain output’ in 2012-13 during its election campaign, the hard truth is that the state has only marginally bettered a record achieved way back in 1991-92.
Secondly it received the award for being the best among the ‘B’ category states, sources in the Union Agriculture ministry said.
According to the information collected from the Union Agriculture ministry, by an RTI activist from Bolangir Hemant Panda, a committee of the ministry had selected the states for the award for 2012-13 taking into consideration the rate of foodgrain production and the rate of increase in the productivity, procurement of foodgrains, budget expenditure in various agriculture related programmes for increase in the productivity and the ratio of foodgrain production in comparison to national average over the last five years.
As per the statistics, between 1980-81 and 2012-13, Odisha had produced 8273 metric tonne of foodgrain in 1991-92. However, it took 22 years for the state to better this mark in 2012-13, with 8352 metric tones- which is barely 79 tonne more.
The statistics clearly reveals the priority the state government has given to its agriculture sector over the last 20 years including 14 years of BJD rule which has seen nearly 4000 farmer suicides.
What the state government is not willing to explain is : why it took 14 years to reach a figure that had been achieved 22 years ago. In its boastful advertisements, the ruling party has cleverly suppressed the fact that the award was meant for ‘B’ or second category states that produce less than 10 lakh metric tonne food grains per annum.
Till date Odisha has not been able to qualify to be part of the first category states that includes states like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal- which are way ahead in foodgrain production and produce well above 10 million metric tonne.
It is sad that Odisha, where more than 70 percent of the population depend on agriculture, is still bracketed with states like Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand which produce less than 10 MMT foodgrainper annum.
The remaining states are in the third category where the production is much less.