Agricultural Growth Lagging Behind in Bihar

RKP Singh

Former Adviser, State Farmers C ommission, Bihar

Bihar and Andhra Pradesh have led the pack among States in terms of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) growth in the financial year 2017-18., Bihar has topped the list after clocking 11.3%. growth followed by Andhra Pradesh (11.2%).GSDP of Bihar constitutes agriculture (19.7%), secondary sector(17.5%) and tertiary sector(62.3%).  Bihar has credit to double digit growth in economy at constant price (2011-12), much higher than national level economic growth but agriculture growth failed to match the state growth  rate ,particularly in 2017-18(1.4%) and average growth in the sector during last five years of 2011-12t o 2016-17 was much lower(0.1%). Among sub –sectors of agriculture, Crop sector failed to even maintained the gross value of its various  product  at constant price ( 2011-12) and declined from Rs 423 billion in 2011-12 to Rs  383 billion in 2017-18 with annual decline of 3.5 per cent. Rice is an important crop in crop sector in Bihar constituting about 25 per cent of total gross  value of crop sector  but  its Gross value at constant  price declined  from Rs 107 million to 101 million during the period whereas oil seeds,  millets and pulses also experienced the similar decline in their gross value during the period. Maize is the only crop which recorded spectacular increase in gross value from Rs 15.7 billion to Rs 24.6 billion during the period. An increasing trend of gross value of condiments and spices has been observed in Bihar during the period. Despite the various mega projects of agricultural development namely; National Food Security Mission, Rastriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and National  Horticulture Mission, performance of  crop sector including fruits and vegetables crops has been unsatisfactory in Bihar during the last five years.  Gross cropped area and net sown area observed declining trend and current fallow constitutes  more than 20 per cent of respective geographical area of 6 districts of Bihar However, indicators of agricultural  development like; irrigated area and seed replacement rate observed increasing trend. Per hectare fertilizer consumption is, no doubt, higher than neighboring states but observed declining trend which might have compensated by vermi compost and  other organic matter due to massive program of organic farming launched by the government. Despite all efforts, crop sector is not getting boost in the state. Bihar received deficient rain fall during last five years, except in 2016. It may be an important reason for poor performance of crop sector. It seems that agriculture is still a gamble of monsoon in Bihar. It is a matter of concern and there is an urgent need of conducting an in- depth analysis to find out the reasons of declining trend of crop sector in Bihar. Besides poor performance of cop sector, there has been skewed performance of rice production across districts of Bihar. Average per hectare rice productivity is about 35 quintals in districts of south west region whereas  rice productivity is less than 20 quintals in districts located in north region. This gap should be bridged through  launching targeted projects in these districts  to improve the agricultural performance of the state.

            Livestock and fisheries performed better by recording  average growth of  8.2 per cent by each of these two sub sectors during the last five years.  In the year 2017—18, livestock and fisheries  sectors achieved much higher growth of 15.7% and 18.2% , respectively. In livestock sector, milk and egg production achieved more than 6 per cent growth during last five years however meat production growth rate could not reach even 5 per cent during the period .Despite various constraints in livestock production like; unavailability of financial resources, lack of skilled manpower ,insufficient infrastructure  for veterinary services and unavailability of high quality germ plasm, livestock sector achieved comparatively high growth in livestock production but milk production per in- milk animal is still lower by 15  per cent to national level..However, Bihar is now self sufficient in milk production by producing per capita per day milk of 229 gms against ICMR recommendation of 220 gms. Livestock farmers helped achieving gigantic task  but they are still facing problem of scientific treatment of their animals and exploitation by middle men in milk marketing because institutional milk marketing net work still covers only one – third of villages and about 7 per cent of rural households. Besides, spatial distribution of milk production is skewed, 7 districts covering 19 per cent of geographical area produce 30 per cent of total milk production whereas 11 low producing districts cover 18 per cent of geographical area but produce only 14 per cent of milk produced in Bihar. Hence, low milk producing districts  should be assigned more efforts in livestock development to tap their unutilized potential of milk production which will help increasing milk production in the state. Recent announcement of Union Government in subsidy in livestock loan should be implemented in these  districts on priority basis.

          Fisheries sector still contributes   only 1.6 per cent to SGDP but its growth has been robust since 2001-02.The sector achieved about 18 per cent growth in 2017-18. Fish production increased from 2.40 lakh tonnes in 2001-02 to 5.87 lakh tonnes in 2017-18.Fish production in Bihar is commonly practised in ponds because reverine fisheries has collapsed due to  over fishing and destructive fishing, population pressure, siltation and reduction in water flow and other anthropogenic activities. An spectacular increase  in Fish production has been due to increase in water area from 62 thousand hectares in 2008-09 to 92 thousand hectares in 2017-18 and increase in  production of fish seeds by more than two fold during past two years. Despite a huge subsidy to fish seed production, all 160 hatcheries of the state are  not functional and few of them are engaged in fingerling production which is  most demanded fish seeds  by fish farmers.In fish production also there is skewed spatial distribution of fish production in the state. Five districts jointly produced about 47 per cent of total fish production in the state. Madhubani and east Champarand districts  produced more than one lakh tonnes of fish  whereas  total  fish production of five districts  was less than 10 thousand tonnes in 2017-18. However, the proposed target of expenditure of about  Rs 1178 crore on fisheries development in Twelve Five Year Plan is likely to change the face of fish production and the state is likely to be self sufficient in fish production within a years.

 Among  secondary sector  manufacturing and construction are main player and jointly contributes  about 16 per cent to GSDP in 2017-18 . But annual growth in these two sub sectors is less than 3 per cent which is about one fourth growth achieved by GSDP. However, the construction sector recorded growth of 48 per cent in 2006-07 because there was boom in construction sector in Bihar in this year, mainly due to change in political environment. Despite several steps taken by Union Government, Construction sector is lagging behind to other sector, due to state government policy on sand mining and higher levies on land sale and purchase. Manufacturing sector has been poor in Bihar but once recorded  higher growth ( 12%) in 2006-007 but again experienced  traditional growth rate of 3-4 per cent.

The tertiary sector emerged as the largest and fastest-growing sectors of the state economy, making higher contributions to state Gross Domestic Product. Tertiary sector contributes 62.3 per cent to Gross State Domestic Product in 2017-18 and recorded growth of 14.6 per cent over previous year but the state achieved only  6.3 percent growth in tertiary sector during last five years. The sector experienced boom during last three years ( 2015-18). Among tertiary  sub – sectors,  trade and repairs, transport and communication, and real estate and professional services are main players and  jointly constitute  about 41 per cent to total SGDP  at constant price in 2017-18. Annual growth in trade and repair (22.9% ) is  higher than growth of agriculture  and allied sector(1.4%) in 2017-18.The storage sector is the weakest sector in Bihar’s economy which needs boost to strengthen the agricultural development.

 Hence, it may be surmised that the  crop sector is lagging behind but livestock and fisheries sectors are emerging strong players for improving rural economy in Bihar.The secondary sector has been a weakest link but tertiary sector,particularly trade,repairs and rural road transport emerged as  main players for accelerating development of Bihar’s economy. However, there is an urgent need to accelerate the development process of agriculture sector for improving food security and livelihood of weaker section of society in Bihar


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