Agriculture is the most vital sector of the Indian economy and providing food to a population over a billion and sustains livelihood of about two-thirds of population . Similarly, agriculture has been and continues to be lifeline of Bihar’s economy. The relevance of agriculture to Bihar’s economy is reflected at varying degrees at grass root level. Three fourth of the people in Bihar, the third most populous state with a population density around twice that of the country, is engaged in agriculture. More than 81% of the land holdings in the State are operated by small and marginal farmers who depend on financial support from external sources for carrying out the farm activities .
With this important scenario of agriculture in the state and spells out the need for reorienting the agricultural extension. The Gangetic Plains of Bihar is endowed with fertile soils, rich in water resources (groundwater and river systems) and favourable agro-climatic conditions for intensive cropping systems. This sector provides nutritional security, employment generation, and ecological benefits. There is wide scope for meaningful diversification for sustainable agriculture in terms of market and exports. Agriculture is contributing substantially to overall economic development. Basically, there are three important point need to concern on Bihar agriculture; first, increasing population pressure which required more food and decline in per capita is second issue. Third is sustainable growth of agriculture.
Therefore, to cope up with this challenge science technology and innovation are essential to increase crop farming. Ever since humans discovered, the technique of multiplying wild seeds into food and other products, and through this an unbreakable relationship between agriculture and creativity was born. Millions of farmers all over the world depends on agriculture innovation to accelerate crop production. Thus, the objectives of the paper are following:
1) To identify the occurrence and determinants of Agriculture Innovation as theoretical Framework.
2) To evaluate the consequence of their interactions in terms of production of food grains in Bihar.
3) To scrutinize the challenges of agriculture and policy implication to enhance agriculture growth in Bihar.
Thus, to tackle the objectives of the paper it has been categorized into six different section. With the following introduction, the second section of the paper deals with the theoretical concept of agriculture innovation. Similarly, third section Technological innovation of agriculture innovation which deal on their impacts on production. Fourth section cover the facing problem in agriculture in Bihar and similarly, fifth section deals with strategies of government to promote new kind of technologies for better development of agriculture based state like Bihar and final section concludes the paper.
2. Innovation System in Agriculture: A theoretical Concept
An innovation system is set of various actors which build through the wide networks of organization, enterprises and individuals which have aim to bring new products, new processes, and new forms of organization into economic use (World Bank 2006). Though, various authors (i.e. Freeman, 1987; Lundvall, 1992, or Metcalfe, 1995) defined innovation system their own way. But one thing is common in all definition that they suggest a systemic framework for inspecting the rather complex web of actors and process related to technology development. It draws two key aspects first; the multiplicity of actors involved and their interactions and second enabling environment in which these actors operate.
In the early 1980s agriculture production was integrally more fluctuate and location specific because it is a process of natural system that continuously evolve over period of time and space (Biggs and Clay, 1981). It is said that knowledge of agricultural technology primarily resides with farmers and in their field. The major difference in developed and developing countries is high rate of investment, extensive network of institutions and finally awareness of market and technological knowledge among the farmers in the developed economies. As traditionally studied, Agricultural innovations are mainly categorise as products which can be separated based on their several parameters.
2.1. Classification of Agriculture Innovation (Sonnino, 2009)
I. Genetic, mechanic and chemical innovations (private goods) and agronomic, managerial and animal husbandry innovations (public goods);
II. Individual innovations (individual adopter) and collective innovations (group of persons);
III. Continuous innovations, semi-continuous innovations, and discontinuous innovations with increasing demands for new skills, knowledge and even investments;
IV. Labour saving innovations and land saving innovations;
V. Process innovations and product innovations;
VI. Endogenous and exogenous innovations.
2.1.2. Innovations according to impact:
I. New products;
II. Yield increasing innovations;
III. Cost-reducing innovations;
IV. Innovations that enhance product quality.
The above classification depicts about the several sources available for technological improvements in agriculture sector. Substantial development in biochemical technology has been made possible by advances in basic sciences and their application to develop innovative technologies for construction, mechanical and chemical engineering. Development of technology for mechanized pumping of water using electricity and petroleum fuel has made it possible to tap deeper aquifers and accesses larger volumes of water per unit of time. Advances in chemical technology also provided the basis for development of synthetic fertilizers and agrochemicals. Improved seed varieties and agronomic practices are based on advances in basic research in biological sciences. Discoveries and inventions in electrical and mechanical engineering led to the development of transport vehicles and farm machinery.
2.2. The Evolution of Innovation System in Agriculture
There were various factors which evolved innovation system in agriculture such as the successful role played by the national innovation systems perspective in the industrial sector; the inadequacy of the linear model to explain the innovation process; the insufficiency of existing frameworks for organizational analysis to be all inclusive; and the increased demand for developmental impacts (World Bank, 2007). These factors are further discussed. The first and the main factor is the positive impact of the innovation systems in the industrial sector of many developed countries. Freeman (1987) defined national innovation systems as the network of institutes in the public and private sectors whose activities and interactions initiate, import, modify, and diffuse technologies. Lundvall (1992) highlighted that learning and the role of institutions are critical components of national innovation systems, emphasizing the notion of diffusion of economically useful knowledge. Edquist (1997) emphasized the importance of organizational and institutional change in addition to the more popular technological innovation. This innovation system is not a silver bullet for organizing innovation but it helps in planning and policymaking to enhance innovation. Because of its early success in the industrial sector, the concept is being applied in agriculture sector especially for food grain cultivation. The second factor is the lack of the linear model to explain the actual process of innovation and it has led to the multiple source of innovation model for research in agricultural and technology promotion which was first proposed by Biggs (1989). In this model, major focused on the idea that innovations come from multiple sources i.e. innovation does not only come from the researchers, but also come from practitioners in numerous settings throughout research, extension, and production systems. Biggs argues that the multiple-source model better fits the practice of agricultural R&D.
The third factor is the failure of the existing organizational framework to be all inclusive. It’s led to the new framework for national agricultural research institutes (NARIs) which first emerged after World War II. It facilitated major investments in agricultural technology to increase food production and offered an organizational structure for agricultural research to serve their interests in promoting export crop production. Although, after a decade, because of inadequacy of the NARI concept to address agricultural R&D, problems forced practitioners to look for an alternate model to put up all public institutes involved in agricultural research, extension, and education. This resulted in a number of other concepts to emerge such as agricultural knowledge and information systems (AKIS), the Technology Development and Transfer system (TDT) and AISs (Elliot 2008).
The fourth factor that agricultural practices do not address adequately are the environmental externalities accompanying technological changes leading to the incorporation of environmental and ecological considerations. Currently, research is expected to contribute to various goals, such as poverty alleviation, food and nutritional security, environmental sustainability, and other Millennium Development Goals. This links the research directly to development and cannot be achieved by single developed technologies. Innovation is vital to the realization of developmental impacts.
On the basis of these factors the evolution of innovation system concept in agriculture can be seen in two directions: (1) as a framework for organizational analysis, and (2) as a framework for technology development and dissemination, shown in figure (Anandajaysekeram et.al, 2005). In the period of 1970s the innovation system in agriculture started with farming systems research to address farm-level productivity. A review of the literature clearly demonstrates that adoption of the innovation systems concept in agriculture has assorted impact on production.
Figure: 1. The evolution of systems thinking and its application in agriculture
Source: Anandajayasekeram et. al., 2005
In the figure, one can see that on the organizational side, it started with NARIs and steered to AISs, including all organizations focusing on knowledge generation, dissemination, and application. On the knowledge front, it moved from near term technology and productivity gains to broader development goals of poverty alleviation, food and nutrition security, and environmental sustainability. Both developments eventually led to the concept of innovation—a process that not only involves research, but also involves a wide range of activities, actors, and relationships linked with the creation and transmission of knowledge and its productive use (World Bank, 2007). Therefore, the concept of an innovation system has guided this more holistic approach to planning knowledge production and use. Managing this dynamic and complex environment requires a range of skills and tactical planning and shifts in paradigms. In response to these changes, the central source model of innovation of the 1970s and 1980s has gradually developed to the new approach towards agricultural innovation systems (AIS).
2.3. Phases in the Formation of Agriculture Innovation Platforms
An innovation platform is a physical or simulated forum that creates an environment within which to share and discuss ideas, listen and learn, think and talk, and collaborate with a view to innovate. This platform concept has been used in the agricultural sector recently. In this process, firstly, there is the facilitation of interactions and learning among actors selected from a product chain leading to participatory diagnosis of problems; and secondly there is the joint exploration of opportunities and investigation of solutions leading to the promotion of agricultural innovation (Adekunle, Fatunbi, and Jones 2010; van Rooyen and Homann 2008; Ugbe 2010 and Griffith 2009). The key steps and processes involved in the establishment and management of innovation clusters are well documented (Adekunle, Fatunbi, and Jones 2010; van Rooyen and Homann 2008; Tenywa et. al., 2011; Agyemang 2007; and Mapila, Kirsten, and Meyer 2011) and summarized in Figure 2.
Over the time, the composition of the cluster changes and it depends on the nature of the activities. In many instances work done by innovation clusters is closely associated with the market chain and the priority problem being investigated. The members of cluster do hands-on work in identifying, exploring, and exploring solutions, and in facilitating adoptions. They normally function at the level of intervention-based innovation systems. By joining together several stakeholders can be raised their issues at one stages, the innovation cluster generates site-specific solutions to produce according to market requirements, which in turn will ensure better prices for smallholder producers (van Rooyen and Homann 2008). The iterative nature of the innovation cluster provides an ideal opportunity for monitoring and to evaluate impacts and learned from results. The formation and management of innovation clusters is a dynamic, and a highly context specific process. Strong leadership, strategic partnerships, information flows, interactions, and dealing with recurrent challenges in the formation and management of innovation cluster are critical factors in fostering innovations.
Figure: 2. Steps in the formation of agricultural innovation platforms
Source: Tenywa et al. 2011
The key challenge in the implementation of innovative platforms is the low capacity of partner organizations especially the skills required by the farmers to understand and articulate key issues. This builds new relationships between the private and public sectors and farmers for mutual and sustainable benefits, and ensuring inclusiveness and eliminating marginalization within the platforms. The success of commodity-based innovation platforms requires farmers to be able to negotiate as equal partners with others. At present in many instances, farmers are unable to express their concerns or demands as an organized voice . Throughout the study, it has been demonstrated that innovation does not just happen within the supply side (based on new technological possibilities) or as a result of the articulation of user demand (based on social needs and market requirements); it occurs through a complex set of processes that link many different actors—not only the developers and users, but also a wide variety of intermediary organizations, platforms, and individuals.
The AIS perspective provides a means of analysing how knowledge is exchanged and how institutional and technological change occurs in a given society by examining the roles and interactions of diverse agents involved in the research, development, and delivery of innovations that are directly or indirectly relevant to agricultural production and consumption. It is a collaborative arrangement bringing together several organizations working toward technological, managerial, organizational, and institutional change in agriculture. This system may include the traditional sources of innovations; the modern actors such as NARIs, international agricultural research institutes, and advanced research institutes; private sectors including local, national, and multinationals; agro-industrial firms and entrepreneurs; civil society organizations for example NGOs, farmers and consumer organizations, and pressure groups; and those institutions (laws, regulations, beliefs, customs, and norms) that affect the process by which innovations are developed and delivered (World Bank, 2007). It has shown in figure 3.
Figure: 3. A typical national agricultural innovation system framework
Source: World Bank, 2007
As figure one can see that AIS combines a complete system of different agents whose interactions are stipulated by formal and informal socioeconomic institutions. It emphasizes the outcomes of knowledge generation and adoption. It highlights the importance of framework conditions and linkages to other sectors, and the broader S&T community both within and outside the country. This framework captures several things i.e. the influence of market forces, but also the impacts of organizational learning and behavioral change, nonmarket institutions, and public policy processes . To identify organizations relevant to a sector Arnold and Bell (2001) provide a typology of actors in an innovation system. This typology has four broad classifications shown in figure 4 (World Bank, 2007):
1) The demand domain primarily involves consumers and domestic and international markets for products. It also includes policy actors. Policy actors are not consumers in the conventional sense, but they have a demand for knowledge and information produced by the innovation system (to inform policy), and they should be considered an integral part of the system, just as consumers of more conventional products.
2) The research domain primarily involves formal research organizations producing mainly codified knowledge, mostly in the public sector, but it recognizes that the private sector and NGOs may also have a role.
3) The enterprise domain primarily involves firms and farmers using mainly codified and tacit knowledge and producing tacit knowledge.
4) The intermediary domain involves organizations that may not necessarily be involved in creating or using knowledge but play a critical role in ensuring that knowledge flows from one part of the system to other parts. For example, NGOs, cooperatives, or industry associations might articulate the demand for knowledge or products from disadvantaged or fragmented constituencies such as farmers. This domain could also involve organizations whose business is to broker access to knowledge, including consulting companies or third-party agencies such as those trying to give developing countries access to biotechnology tools.
Figure: 4. Elements of Agriculture Innovation Systems
Source: Arnold and Bell, 2001cited in world bank, 2007
The figure shows that actors can play multiple roles, and these roles can evolve over time. Nevertheless, the typology provides simple guidance on the sorts of organizations that are likely to be important in a sectorial innovation system.
3. Technological Innovation in Agriculture
Technological innovation in terms of Seeds, fertilizers and irrigation are the major inputs in agricultural production. A sustained increase in agriculture production and productivity is dependent on continuous development of innovation to the farmers. Mechanization and agrochemicals are the other major inputs. The spread in modern input application or it has been much slower in the state as compared to other states in the country.
However, the study of agricultural innovation is to ask farmers whether or not they have adopted one or more items in a list of recommended practices and to construct a measure of degree of acceptance on the basis of these responses. Most studies obtain much more information than simply the presence or absence of a given practice, but that is the basis of most indices of agricultural innovation. The conventional approach concentrates on the farmer and his farm operation as the units of analysis, and assumes that the practice recommended by agricultural scientists constitutes an adequate universe of innovations. Thus, the standard measures do not deal with “collective innovations”, such as community grain storage facilities or the appearance of an experiment station except insofar as farmers may make individual use of such facilities.
Irrigation is one of the critical inputs for increasing agricultural production. Singh 2012 noted that, In Bihar, about 54 percent area is irrigated which is much higher than the corresponding national average 42 percent. Average gross irrigated area increased from 47 lakh hectares in 2001-06 to 47.98 lakh hectares in 2006-11 but it is mainly through private tube wells. State Government has installed few tube wells and handed over their management to individual (officially to committee) but these tube wells are not functioning well in the interest of farming community. State government provided assistance to install 21,036 pump sets in 2009-10 but it had almost insignificant impact on increasing tube well irrigated area which increased by only four thousand hectares from 27.22 lakh hectares in 2008-09 to 27.26 lakh hectares in 2009-10 (Singh, 2012).
Hence, almost identical number of tube wells might have turned non-functional during the year. However, eleven medium and major irrigation projects for increasing irrigated area are under progress in Eleventh Five Year Plan. About 55 percent of ground water is still to be exploited for irrigation purposes. Hence, there is vast potential for increasing irrigated area in Bihar which will help increasing agricultural production for not only consumption but for raw materials for agro-industry.
Fertilizer is known as an essential input for increasing crop production. A spectacular increase in fertilizer consumption has been observed during green revolution period in the country in general and Bihar in particular. In Bihar per hectare fertilizer (NPK) consumption was only 4 kilograms in early sixties which increased to 19 kilograms in 1975-76 and further increased to about 200 kilograms in 2010-11. Per hectare fertilizer consumption in crop production increased by more than two fold during last 10 years from about 80 kilograms in 2000-01 to 200 kilograms in 2010-11(Singh, 2012).
However, increasing use of chemical fertilizers accompanied with declining use of manure would likely to have adverse effect on soil health. Deficiency of micronutrients (zinc, boron and sulphur) has been reported from different parts of state but there is no facility where farmers could get their soil tested to know the extent of micro-nutrient deficiency.
Government of Bihar made unsuccessful efforts to provide soil test (NPK) facility to farmers but a few farmers could get the report of soil test. Recently, Department of Agriculture started a campaign for popularizing organic farming in the state. In this context it is worth pointing out that the rice production in water logged area of north Bihar was totally chemical free up to mid-nineties. It is also a difficult task for farmers to arrange organic/bio-fertilizers for huge area under food grains. Organic certification is another difficult and costly activity, particularly for small and marginal farmers, who constitute more than 90 per cent of farm households and own about 50 per cent of cultivated area in Bihar.
Seed is known for increasing agricultural production, good quality seeds alone can increase 30 per cent of agricultural production. In Bihar, high yielding varieties cover 65 per cent area under rice, 95 per cent area under wheat and 88 per cent area under maize but farmers are using poor quality seeds because most of these seeds are home grown. State Government has been making sincere efforts to popularise and make available quality seeds to farmers since 2009. Under Chief Minister Beej Vistar yojana, rice and wheat foundation seeds were provided to farmers for production of quality seeds but only 25 per cent of produced rice and 31 per cent of produced wheat seeds could be utilised as seed in the next season. It may be considered a good effort in right direction but proper monitoring of this scheme could have made this effort more useful (Singh, 2012).
In 2011 also, a large quantum of Daincha seeds for green manure, and hybrid rice seeds have been distributed among farmers but desired result may not be obtained due to poor monitoring of the scheme. Seed replacement rates of rice and wheat increased from less than 10 per cent in 2001-05 to 31% and 29%, respectively in 2010-11. Seed replacement rate of maize was high (45%) in 2001-05 but it also increased to 65 per cent in 2010-11. But availability of quality seeds of vegetables is still much lower in Bihar (Singh, 2012).
3.1. Impact of technology in Agriculture Production
The state has fertile gangetic alluvial soil with abundant water resource including ground water resources enabling farmers to produce a variety of crops. The state has a total land area of 9.4 million ha out of which 84 per cent is gross cropped area i.e. approximately 7.9 million hectare (ha). The area under food grains is around 85 per cent of the gross cropped area which means that agricultural production is still oriented towards subsistence production as most of the area is under food grains (GoB, 2011). The total food grain production in the state was 105 Lakh Million Tone (MT) with the rice, wheat and maize are the major cereal crops. The production for various crops in the state is given in Table1.
Table 1: Crop wise production in Bihar (2007-08 to 2009-10) Lakh MT
Crop 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Rice 44.73 55.90 36.21
Wheat 49.75 44.10 46.23
Maize 18.57 17.14 17.139
Coarse 18.96 17.51 17.50
Pulses 4.73 4.68 5.14
Oilseed 1.44 1.38 1.49
Sugarcane 40.27 49.60 50.00
Source: Research Report, 2011-2012 NIAM
The productivity of food grains in Bihar was 1570 Kg/ha for the year 2009-10 which is lower than the national average of 1798 kg/ ha. The productivity in case of pulses was 858 Kg/ha which is higher than the national average of 625 kg/ha. The productivity of the state in maize is also higher than the national average while it 11 comparable in case of oilseeds.
3.1.1. Agricultural production scenario
Analysis of food grain production during last 10 years revealed that average area under food grain declined from about 68 lakh hectares during 2001-06 to 67 lakh hectares during 2006-11, but their share in gross cropped area remained constant at 88 per cent during the period (Singh, 2012). Despite decline in area under food grain and unfavourable weather (flood in 2007 & 2008 and drought in 2009 & 2010) food grain production increased by about 18 per cent during last five years over preceding five years (2001-06). There was spectacular increase in food grain productivity from 1176 kgs per hectare during 2001-06 to 1743 Kgs per hectare during 2006-11(GoB, 2011). But production of rice, the main food grain crop which is grown in about two-third area of net sown area in kharif season, did not show any increase in productivity. Production of rice is still to cross 60 lakh tonnes whereas production of about 55 lakh tonnes of rice was achieved in 2003-04. Hence, it may be said that rice production in Bihar still depends on weather. In Bihar, rice cannot be grown successfully in scanty rainfall due to unreliable and costly irrigation sources.
According to GoB, 2011, Wheat production was stagnant at 40 lakh tonnes during 1995-2006 but its average annual production increased to 59 lakh tonnes in 2010-11. Average per hectare wheat productivity showed increasing trend from about 20 quintals during 2001-06 to more than 23 quintals during last five years (2006-11). Maize productivity also increased from 23 quintals to 33 quintals per hectare during 2006-11 (GoB, 2011). Hence, there is an ample scope for increasing production of winter maize in Bihar. Increase in production and productivity of wheat and maize has been mainly contributed by adoption of modern production technology of these crops by farmers.
While comparing the productivities of principal crops with target set for respective crops at the terminal year of Eleventh Five Year Plan, there has not been any increase in rice productivity in the state but the targets set for wheat and maize productivities are likely to be achieved in the terminal year of the plan. There has been significant increase in per hectare productivity of principal crops during last five years but the state is still placed at twelfth position in rice, seventh position in wheat and sixth position in maize productivity in the country.
4. Problems of Agriculture in Bihar
Slow agricultural growth is a concern for policymakers as eighty percent peoples depend on agriculture for their livelihood (GoB, 2008). Current agricultural practices are neither economically nor environmentally sustainable and Bihar yields for many agricultural commodities are low. Poorly maintained irrigation systems and almost universal lack of good extension services are among the factors responsible. Farmers’ access to markets is hampered by poor roads, rudimentary market infrastructure, and excessive regulation.
4.1. Low yields in rice and wheat in Bihar: Technological aspects
According to fujita one of the major problem is that limited availability of improved varieties (especially rice) for farmers and the other is some kind of technological ‘backwardness’ regarding tube-well irrigation in Bihar. Every agriculture technology cannot be used in every geographical area. Therefore, it is usually critical for the government to develop agriculture technologies that are suitable to each local situation, and this is especially true when developing improved seed varieties. In the case of Bihar, the state government had not been making necessary effort in this regard, especially for rice varieties.
Farmers still largely used traditional local rice varieties, but, at the same time, several hybrid rice varieties developed by government such as Sorna, MTU1001(released by the state government in 1997) and Rajendra Mansuri (released in 2004) , were not disseminated in the village at all because these HYV required more water therefore, high price of irrigation water unprofitable for farmers.
It seemed that farmers in the village were so discouraged from the three years of consecutive natural disasters after 2008 that they had largely lost intrust in adopting new technologies. For agriculture they needed to purchase water for irrigation, which cost as much as Rs. 70 per hour. Moreover, although farmer spent a lot of money for irrigation, the rice yield declined substantially because of the problems with pests that often occur in drought years.
On other hand, tube-well technology for irrigation is another problem in rural Bihar. Almost all the tube-wells run on diesel oil, not electricity. Tube-wells are widely disseminated in Bihar; the technology has been rather ‘primitive’, which seems to have resulted in an expensive water rate. The high water rate, in turn, along with the low crop yield arising from the non-availability of improved seeds, discouraged farmers from using more water for intensive cultivation.
4.2. On the agrarian structure
According to the census, which categorised farm households based on operated land, the total number of farm households was 11,382,000 with a total operated land of 6,810,000 hectares. Therefore the average size of operated less than 1 hectare, whereas large-scale farm households with more than 4 hectares accounted for only 1.5 percent, though they operated 14.8 per cent of the total land (Bansil, 2011).
According to the 59th Round of National sample survey revealed that around 12 percent of the operated land in Bihar was under tenancy, but some micro level studies indicate that as high as 25 to 35 percent of the total cultivated area in the state is under tenancy.
4.3. On the Labour shortage problem in agriculture
During the last few decades, there are plenty numbers of people migrate from Bihar for livelihood. The effect of this is increasingly being felt by large farmers who often complain about the problem of a labour shortage for their agriculture operations. During the last five years the difficulty in getting hired labour has become acute. Under such circumstances, the alleged inverse relation between farm size and productivity has to be more sharply observed. Large farmers, faced with the problem of an acute labor shortage, especially in the peak agriculture seasons, are going to rent out more land in the tenancy market.
4.4. Absence of Competitive Market
The absence of competitive market has been widely held among scholars particularly under developed and developing country in the context of agriculture, which stream from information a cemetery, moral hazard and adverse selection. According to Chand, 2012 A large number of public-sector institutions and cooperative marketing organisations were set up after Independence to improve the market structure, its conduct and performance, and to help growers realise better returns for their produce. Private trade in India at the time was underdeveloped and not equipped to meet the needs of a growing economy. Some of these institutions, such as the Food Corporation of India (FCI), the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI), the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), and the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED), and some commodity boards have a strong presence in the market whereas others have become dormant or defunct. The decline has been quite serious in the case of state-level and cooperative institutions. The country needs to revive these institutions and build them on business lines as they Act as a balance to the private sector and serve the purpose of attaining social objectives (Chand, 2012).
Intensive cultivation of these two cereals, particularly rice-wheat rotation, has resulted in depletion of water, soil degradation, and deterioration in water quality (Chand, 2010). The price policy practised in the country since the onset of the green revolution ignored the TOR, which recommended developing a production pattern broadly in the light of national requirements and ensuring the rational use of land, water, and other resources. The second major criticism of the price policy is that a large number of crops and states are not covered by effective implementation of the MSP (Chand, 2003). The prices received by farmers are often below the MSP in a large number of crops and in a large number of markets where it is not supported by effective procurement .
Agricultural marketing suffers from inefficiency, a disconnect between the prices received by producers and the prices paid by consumers, fragmented and long marketing channels, poor infrastructure, and policy distortions. Agricultural markets are not vertically integrated (Chand, 2006), though they are horizontally (Jha et. al., 1997). In the total value added in production and marketing, the share added in the post-harvest phase is rising and that in production is falling.
5. Government Policy and strategies to develop crop farming
There are 14 major agricultural development programmes managed and monitored by Department of Agriculture, Government of Bihar which include 5 state sponsored, 4 centre sponsored and 4 Mission Mode projects. An attempt has been made here to examine the performance of three important agricultural development programmes i.e.; National Horticulture Mission (NHM), Rastriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) and National Food Security Mission (NFSM) .
5.1. National Horticulture Mission (NHM)
It was launched in Bihar in the year 2005-06 with the objective of bringing a holistic and integrated development in the horticulture sector. It is based on cluster approach, focussed to development of selected crops, improvement in production and productivity, adoption of good agricultural practices aimed at promotion of export and thrust on post- harvest management. During first four years of NHM implementation, less than one-fifth of fund allocated to this programme could be utilized but pace of implementation of various components of NHM was accelerated in 2009-10 when 60 per cent of allocated fund was utilized for implementation of the project. However, the steam of the project seems to be exhausted in 2010-11 because only 31 per cent of allocated fund was utilized in the year.
Among various components of NHM, promotion of export and post harvest management have not been taken up seriously in Bihar, which are very important for increasing income of farmers. Mango constitutes about 50 per cent of total fruit area in Bihar and it is one of the important crops of NHM programme. Area under Mango increased by 4 thousand hectares during 2005-09 i.e. annual increase of 0.71 per cent in mango area. Department of Horticulture made effort in implementation of NHM but state has lagged much behind in executing various projects of NHM, mainly due to inappropriate design of the project for more than 90 per cent farm households along with poor monitoring of the scheme.
5.2. National Food Security Mission (NFSM)
It was launched in Bihar in the year 2007-08 with objectives to increase productivities of rice, wheat and pulses along with to maintain/increase the fertility of soil. This programme has made some dent in rural area by distributing seeds and fertilizers but a large number of remote villages and poor farmers do not have access to this programme. Department of Agriculture could make much higher expenditure (86% of allocated fund) in 2009-10 but it has reduced to 59 per cent in 2010-11. Paddy seeds distributed during kharif 2011 could not be utilized properly by the majority of farmers, due to their poor knowledge about the seeds or their less confidence in new technology (seed).
5.3. Rastriya Krishi Vikas Yojna (RKVY)
The project was launched in 2007-08 to increase investment in agriculture and allied sectors, reduce yield gap and address the agriculture and allied sectors in an integrated manner. In RKVY, agriculture mechanization is the major component which accounts for 85 per cent of total outlay of the project but only one-third outlay of agriculture mechanization could be utilized in 2010-11. The performance of other components of the RKVY has been poor than the agriculture mechanization since inception of the project.
In all these Mega Projects, small and marginal farmers are least benefited due to their small size of land holdings, low socio-economic status and poor access to officials of agriculture department.
Several new innovative programmes have been initiated by state governments like ‘Mukhyamantri Teevra Beej Vistar Yojana’, ‘Beej Gram Yojana’, Bihar Horticulture Development Society, ‘Mukhyamantri Bagwani Mission Karyakram’ etc which will show their impacts on the growth rate only when the process of strong infrastructure development and monitoring of projects are taken up on priority basis. Besides, what is needed is to orient and prioritise public expenditure for sectors like; agriculture and small scale agro-processing that cater to the needs of the overwhelming majority of Bihar’s population for improving their skill, access to knowledge and technology.
The study has revealed that Lower yield of food as well as non-food crops could be seen in low off-take of modern inputs, mainly irrigation, fertilizer and HYV seeds. Irrigation was not increasing in the state. It was largely because the flow of investment for creation of irrigation potential (both public and private) was low. Some of the created irrigation potential was found to be getting infructuous thereby nullifying the effect of newly created potential. This calls for regular repair and maintenance of the old irrigation structure on the one hand and larger flow of funds for creation of new irrigation potential on the other.
The problem of irrigation was further compounded with low irrigation intensity, more so in the plateau zone, which, in turn could be attributed to operational inefficiency and poor management of the irrigation structure. Declining water table, drying tank/ponds/reservoir due to non-preservation and non-availability or release of canal water, also affects the irrigation intensity adversely in the state. Low irrigation could as well be attributed to relatively high cost of irrigation in the state, which is largely using diesel pump sets. This necessitates replacement of diesel by electric pump sets. Another reason for low exploitation of ground water as well as pond/tank/ reservoir resources for irrigation was inappropriateness of the available technology to exploit these resources, especially in the context of high sub-divisions and fragmentations of land on the one hand and large spread of different parcels of land that farmers operate. This calls for propagation of low cost appropriate irrigation technology suitable to the local conditions in the state.
Fertilizer consumption, although increasing, was relatively much less in the state. Low off-take of fertilizer consumption in the state could partly be seen in inadequate flow of institutional credit. Irregular and untimely credit supply further restricted the use of fertilizer and diversion of credit to non-productive use. Prevailing supply mechanism of fertilizer, largely through co-operative network was also not efficient to cater to the needs. Increasing unbalanced use of fertilizer, more in favour of nitrogen adversely affected the crop yield and soil fertility. Unbalanced use of fertilizer was more in regions with larger share of food grains production and high irrigation network. Long term adverse effect of unbalanced use of fertilizer on soil fertility gives more cause of concern.
The use of HYV seeds was also inadequate in the state. It was available for limited crops only and largely under irrigated conditions. Given the vastness of crop cultivation under unirrigated and dry conditions, there is a strong need for developing and promoting HYV seeds suitable in such situation. Paddy, being the most dominant crop, deserves greater attention in this respect to replace the traditional varieties of paddy with low yield potential. Moreover, the replacement rate of HYV seeds was also inadequate.
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