A World Bank research paper has revealed that even as crop yield levels remain low in Bihar, there has been an uptick in productivity growth over the last 15 years or so. “Bihar, India’s poorest state, witnessed impressive yield growth in each of its three principal crops over 2005–17,” said the research report. The yields of all the three major crops — rice, wheat, and maize — have doubled during the period.
However, the regional inequality in yields is significant in the state. The World Bank found that the yield in the most productive district was 7-8 times that of the least productive district in 2005. Nevertheless, the situation has improved to some extent as the districts appear to be converging towards a common level rather than just achieving parity in the growth rate of yields.
While this convergence is evident in rice cultivation, there is evidence of a divergence in maize yields, said the report. Even as the government believes the supply of credit to be a critical policy instrument for boosting agricultural productivity, the World Bank said that there is no evidence that the divergence in yields was driven by a divergence in credit allocation. The report further said that the credit supply might not be enough when there are structural snags in the availability of direct agricultural inputs.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has placed the onus of economic growth in the hands of the agriculture sector. Even amid the economic slowdown, the sector is performing well due to normal monsoon and comparatively fewer coronavirus cases in the countryside.
It is expected that the agriculture sector will grow at 3 per cent in the current fiscal while industry and services may have to face a severe contraction. The Modi government has recently announced various agriculture reforms, which are aimed at giving more freedom to the farmers and increasing opportunities for private investment in the sector.