Rajiv Shah, TNN, Nov 10, 2010, 06.12am IST
GANDHINAGAR: A new study, meant for “restricted circulation”, is creating ripples among state’s policy-makers, who have, for over a year, cited an analysis by scholars Tushaar Shah and Ashok Gulati for the International Water Management Institute, Sri Lanka, to say that Gujarat’s “miracle agricultural growth” since 2000 is a trend-setter for India.
The new study, “Gujarat’s agricultural growth story: exploding some myths”, says the talk of “high growth in the early years of the new millennium” of 9.6 per cent per annum is “misleading” and “distorted”. Carried out by M Dinesh Kumar, A Narayanamoorthy, OP Singh, MVK Sivamohan, Manoj Sharma and Nitin Bassi for the Institute of Resource Analysis and Policy, Hyderabad, the study says the real “miracle growth” in Gujarat’s agriculture history occurred “during 1988-89 to 1998-99”, when it grew by 10 per cent. But from 2000-01 and 2008-09, the actual growth was “four per cent” against the claim of 9.6 per cent”. Even this growth was because of farmers using Narmada waters, not because of check dams, as claimed by Shah-Gulati.
The study says that the “miracle” argument fails to take into account a crucial figure – fall of agricultural output by 30 per cent during two drought years, 1999 and 2000.
Then, there is yet another distortion – the 9.6 per cent growth rate is on current prices, which means that the “figures are not corrected for inflation”.
It underlines, “The ‘growth’ observed in the recent past (2002 onwards) is nothing but a good recovery from a major dip in production occurred during the drought years of 1999 and 2000.” The state officials are examining the study.
The study also disputes the argument that dependence on rainfall went down in Gujarat due to a large number of check dams built in the state in 1999-2000.
The highest growth, 22 per cent, during 1980-2006, was on account of milk production. As for crops like cotton and groundnut, “with good monsoons, production grew substantially with steady expansion in cropped area or yield growth”, but in drought years “production suffered with shrinkage in area under irrigated winter crops, and sharp reduction in yield of crops sown in kharif, including cotton and groundnut”.
Insisting that water in these small reservoirs mainly “gets evaporated”, the study says, “though there has been a marked and consistent increase in the area under cotton cultivation during 1994 and 2006, this did not get translated into a production gain, and there was a sharp decline in yield during drought years.”
Suggesting that “sharp fluctuations” characterize the area under irrigation, the study adds, the area under groundnut cultivation has been “hovering around two million hectares (ha) in the past three decades after a slow decline from a peak of 2.3 million ha in early 1960s”.