February 03, 2015

03/02/2015: Maharashtra food grain production hit by drought

The Maharashtra government has been warned of a decline in food grain production in the year 2014-15 because of a prolonged drought situation in some parts of the state, The Indian Express reports.

The state focus paper (2015-16) of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development discussed with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis warns, “There will be a decline in food grain production in state (2014-15) due to low rainfall in some parts of state, particularly in Marathwada region.”

However, the total total food grain production in 2013-14 was 15.4 million   tonnes.


Fadnavis has convened a meeting with nodal departments to review the situation and take measures. A meeting with Union Minister for Agriculture Radhamohan Singh is also high on the government agenda, sources in the ministry of agriculture revealed to Indian Express. Some of the serious aspects that were discussed include making available bank loans to the farmers and prioritising the budget to irrigation projects.

A senior officer disclosed, “The shortfall in food production was expected on account of recurring drought situation in parts of Maharashtra. Currently, we have almost 24,700 villages suffering from drought across the state. The most badly hit is the region of Marathwada.”

Although Fadnavis has announced a Rs 70 billion short term package and Rs 340 billion (US$5.5 billion) long term (spread over five years) to tackle recurring drought, the actual  funds released so far have been disappointing. A senior cabinet minister said, “The delay in release of funds is a matter of serious concern.”

The shortfall in food grains on account of drought like situation in Marathwada coupled with crop damage due to hailstorm in Vidarbha and North Maharashtra have compounded the problems for the state.

While chief minister is likely to accord higher allocations for the water resources and agriculture in the 2015-16 state budget, there are several factors highlighted during the meeting with NABARD which would require course corrections.

There is a concern about the shrink in the agriculture term loans during the last three years. The report stressed, “ The performance under agriculture term loans during the last three years was not satisfactory and needs to be improved.”

The statistics show, “The targets and achievements under agriculture term loans during the last three years was as follows: In 2011-12, total agriculture was Rs 244.27 billion (US$3.63 billion) and agriculture term loan was Rs 52.5 billion (US$0.85 billion). The share of ATL works to 21 per cent.”

It shows the share of agriculture term loan in total agriculture loan has come down from 21.5 percent (2011-12) to 20.08 percent (2012-14).

The ATL are available to farmers for activities other than the seasonal agriculture operations given for more than 18 months repayment period. It is given for the purpose of horticulture, minor irrigation, plantation, sericulture, dairy development, poultry farming etc.

While pegging the production credit requirement for the year 2015-16 at Rs 466.3 billion (US$7.54 billion), NABARD recommended some course corrections to ensure smooth flow of the credit. It pointed to wide variation in scale of finances approved for sugarcane, paddy and cotton.

Read more HERE.

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