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Grain bowl states not most productive

Sunil Jain  |  New Delhi 

States like Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh may account for very large shares of the total agriculture production in the country, but in terms of productivity, they are way below others like Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and, in some parameters, even Nagaland.
From a policy point of view, this would mean public investments in creating irrigation and other agriculture infrastructure in states like Jharkhand would deliver better results.
According to economics research firm Indicus Analytics' latest report India Agri-Gross District Domestic Product 2005-06, Wayanad district in Kerala has the highest productivity of land and delivered Rs 261,342 of crop per hectare in 2005-06.
This was in terms of the net cropped area (NCA). But since land is often cropped more than once a year, such estimates can also be done in terms of gross cropped area or GCA (if one hectare of land is double cropped, it is counted as two hectares of GCA) "" in terms of GCA, surprisingly, Indicus' figures show that Tuensang in Nagaland is the topper, delivering Rs 173,272 worth of crop per hectare (ha) in 2005-06.
(in terms of land productivity)


Districts State Land
1 Wayanad Kerala 261,342 2
2 Una Himachal Pradesh 164,005 54
3 Hazaribag Jharkhand 156,322 187
4 Rajauri Jammu & Kashmir 130,755 69
5 Cooch Bihar West Bengal 129,322 52
6 Chatra Jharkhand 129,036 286
7 Kodarma Jharkhand 128,444 259
8 Punch Jammu & Kashmir 125,991 193
9 The Nilgiris Tamil Nadu 124,078 4
10 Howrah West Bengal 123,861 82
* Agricultural GDP per net cropped area, in Rs per hectare per year
Source: Agri Gross District Domestic Product 2005-06, Indicus Analytics,
While Punjab accounts for a fifth of the country's wheat production (and 12 per cent of all foodgrain), district Moga with its highest production figures has a productivity of just Rs 51,499 per hectare (GCA) and is ranked 77th in the country.
Even more interesting, in terms of the net cropped area, is that Moga's productivity is a higher Rs 1,00,107, indicative of the fact that there are decreasing returns to scale in the state. Ludhiana, the next most productive district in the state, is ranked 79th in terms of GCA productivity (Rs 50,549) and 35th in terms of NCA productivity (Rs 99,174).
Ironically, Punjab has lower land productivity despite intensive use of water and fertilisers that are largely subsidised. While Moga's fertiliser consumption was 243 tonnes per ha in 2005-06, Wayanad in Kerala used 49 tonnes per ha, Chatra in Jharkhand only 67 tonnes per ha and Tuensang in Nagaland just 0.07 tonnes per ha.
The reason why states with higher productivity have much lower share in output has to do with the amount of land available for cultivation. So, while just 2.1 million hectares (GCA) of land was available for cultivation in Jharkhand (this is 1.1 per cent of the all India GCA), the figure was a much higher 7.8 million hectares (GCA) in Punjab (this is 4.2 per cent of the all India GCA).
Indeed, none of the wheat bowl states (Uttar Pradesh accounts for 34 per cent of wheat production and Haryana accounts for 13 per cent) figure on the list of the top 10 most productive districts.
Instead, in terms of GCA, four of the top 10 districts are from Nagaland, three from Jharkhand, and one each from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Assam. In terms of the net cropped area (NCA), Kerala and figure once, while West Bengal figures twice and Jharkhand thrice. West Bengal is the country's largest rice producer, accounting for 16 per cent of all-India production in 2004-05.
Apart from these differences across states, the productivity differences within states are equally large. Of the 23 districts in Andhra Pradesh, for instance, seven districts have a productivity that is 30 per cent less than the mean for the state "" while Nellore had a land productivity (based on the GCA) of Rs 93,100 in 2005-06, this fell to as low as Rs 15,336 in the case of Anantapur.
In Maharashtra, where 9 of the 32 districts have a productivity lower than 30 per cent of the state's mean, productivity ranges between Rs 50,729 per ha in Kolhapur and just Rs 7,346 in Nagpur. Buxar district in Bihar with land productivity of Rs 43,196 fares better than the Nawanshahr district of Punjab (Rs 42,919).

First Published: Thu, June 07 2007. 00:00 IST