Odisha and Agriculture – A Literature Review

Odisha is primarily an Agrarian State. Agriculture is the mainstay of the majority of the population. Though agriculture sector contributes only about 26 per cent to the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), almost more than 70% of the population is dependent on it. In spite of such low contribution, the labour force has not yet move out of this sector which ultimately results in low per capita income in this sector.

Agriculture in Odisha is characterized by low productivity due to sporadic rainfall, disrupted irrigation facilities as well as due to the fact that the state is prone to various natural calamities (Pattanayak & Nayak, 2003). Various literatures have studied cropping pattern of the state and have indicated that the cropping pattern of the state is changing over the years. Various studies have also confirmed that Odisha have not only experienced low productivity but also declining productivity. Agriculture plays a major role in providing a source of livelihood to a large proportion of population. Its development becomes important as it still remains the sector where majority of the workers are concentrated. It provides raw materials to various agro-based industries and also ensures food security-the basic necessity of life.

A number of studies have examined and analysed the agrarian structure and conditions of the country in terms of cropping pattern, determinants of cropping pattern, conditions of the agricultural labourers among many others. Given below is the review of few studies that have discussed various aspect of agrarian conditions in their work. The relevance of these works increase keeping in mind the point that they have brought out successfully many key issues in agriculture and how cropping pattern of a region or the country reflects the infrastructure of a place. The study of these literature have been undertaken to get a clear picture of the subject concerned and an insight of different lenses through which agrarian conditions of the country have been looked upon, before embarking on the study.

Despite the changes made in the macroeconomic policy framework and trade liberalisation, Bhalla and Singh (2009: 34, 43, 44), argued that the agricultural sector in India neither experienced any significant growth subsequent to the initiation of economic reforms in 1991 nor did it derive the expected benefits from trade liberalisation. They further asserted that, when compared with the immediate pre-liberalisation period (1980-83 to 1990-93), agricultural in India recorded a visible deceleration in its growth rates of aggregate yield and output and the process of agricultural diversification during the post-liberalisation period (1990-93 to 2003-06). There are different reasons for its slowdown but decline in public investment in irrigation and water management and thus limited irrigation facilities can be said to affect it the most.

Mruthynajay and Praduman (2003: 159) argued that the cropping pattern strategy followed in post green revolution period has led to narrowing down the base of agricultural production. In terms of allocation of acreage, the cropping pattern in the agricultural scenario of India has been skewed towards food grain. Though area under non- food grain has increased, food grains are still dominant (Ghosh, 2011: 115). The cropping pattern changes revealed that area under different crops was strongly linked with decline in cost of production due to-government subsidies, improved irrigation facilities-hence increase in cropping intensity of certain crops such as that of rice and wheat (Mruthynajay and Praduman, 2003: 163). High yield of crops and subsequent expansion and substitution are also the major reasons for such a change post green revolution with rice, wheat, mustard and cotton emerging as main crops for the farmers with area under coarse cereals declining (Ghosh, 2011: 119). The expansion of area under such crops as well as substitution of coarse cereals resulted in narrowing of the base of production, and crops such as pulses and oilseeds were not given due attention. Thus, the success attained in food crop production post green revolution has also caused serious crop imbalances in the cropping pattern, widened regional disparities, increased instability in production and unplanned import of commodities. So, there is a need to re-examine green revolution strategy keeping in mind the crops and areas that were bypassed so far (Mruthynajay and Praduman, 2003: 165).

The cropping pattern in Orissa is such that most of the districts of Orissa are experiencing a lateral movement towards crop specialisation and crop diversification, but over the years, crop specialisation can be noticed, where about 50% of Gross Cropped area is under paddy due to high yield, improved irrigation facilities and changes in the food habits of people (Pattanayak and Nayak 2004: 6, 13). The adoption of modern varieties of rice (HYV) in Orissa, its degree of adoption is inversely related to the farm size while its intensity of adoption is proportional to its farm size and varies with access to modern inputs. These are positively associated with borrowing since lack of investible cash retard the process of diffusion of modern technologies while tenancy is negatively associated, for the moneylenders feel that the adoption of HYVP would reduce the dependency of tenants on them (Sarap and Vashisht,1994: 90, 92).

However, holding other factors constant, Pattanayak and Nayak (2004: 5, 10, 19) argued that the contribution of agriculture in primary sector and in Gross State Domestic Product has declined but the labour force has not move out of the primary sector in post- reform period in Orissa. The districts are diverging as far as agricultural productivity is concerned and asserted that this variation is due to variation in the use of inputs amongst the districts. The skewed distribution of land, small size of operational holding, high incidence of share tenancy and rural poverty are few of many factors which negatively affect the agricultural productivity. The long-term solution lies in improved agricultural productivity and conscious policy decisions to reduce inter district disparity.

Regarding change in labour demand, Lahiri (1970: A-111, A-114) confirms the general belief that demand for agricultural labour has increased due to High Yielding Varieties Programme (HYVP). There was a high variability amongst different states with respect to total labour required and hired labour as well as contribution to labour days was quite low in pre HYVP days; but on the basis of the data gathered, figures revealed that the introduction of HYVP led to the increase in demand for labours. He further makes a point that changes in the demand for agricultural labour are unable to completely explain the changes in the wage levels of agricultural workers. Since demand for agricultural labours are seasonal, season-wise analysis of wage level would to an extent give a picture of wage-demand relation. Post HYVP, demand for labour has increased; and regarding the changes in cropping pattern- it has been noticed that the tendency has been to shift towards only few crops such as that of paddy and wheat and ignoring other crops. Thus, the study of these literature brings forth the point that post green revolution, many new technologies came forth, but the strategy followed was concentrated to few crops and few developing regions causing regional imbalances. Another major debate that came forth is that the post reform period instead of witnessing growth in agricultural output as it was meant to, have faced declining productivity and growth. These phenomena were observed both at all India level as well as in Odisha.

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