Odisha is an Agrarian State. Almost 70 per cent population of the State are dependent on agriculture. The agriculture sector contributes only about 26 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), with more than 70% population dependence resulting in low per capita income in the farm sector. Consequently, there is a large disparity between the per capita income in the farm sector and the non-farm sector. Therefore, it is essential to deal with those issues which impact the income level of farmers. The National Agriculture Policy approved by the Government of India during 2000, aimed to achieve annual growth of more than 4 per cent in the agriculture sector on a sustainable basis. However, the annual growth rate achieved during the Tenth Five Year Plan averaged around 2.3 per cent. On the other hand, the non-farm sector has grown much faster. Considering the high growth of GDP in the recent past, a major reorientation in the policy is necessary to make this growth more inclusive. The decline in agriculture growth coupled with declining profitability in the agriculture sector, in the face of rapid growth of non-farm sector, is one of the major concerns. The National Policy for Farmers, 2007 has envisaged to focus more on the economic wellbeing of the farmers, rather than just on production.
The public investment in agriculture has been declining and is one of the main reasons behind the declining productivity and low capital formation in the agriculture sector. Private investment in agriculture has also been slow and must be stimulated through appropriate policies. Considering that nearly 70 per cent of India still lives in villages, agricultural growth will continue to be the engine of broad-based economic growth and development as well as of natural resources conservation, leave alone food security and poverty alleviation. Accelerated investment are needed to facilitate agricultural development.
It is quite distressing that the farmers feel at the lowest rung in the social hierarchy. It will be an important task to bring back the glory and self respect of the farming community. There are no policy tools that can achieve this directly. However, putting agriculture sector on a better path and resurrecting its importance across the sectors will go a long way in making farming a respectable profession. In the above backdrop, a wholesome policy framework for the benefit of the farmers of the State is now brought out with a focus more on the economic well-being of the farmers, rather than just on production and growth. More than a decade has passed since the adoption of State Agriculture Policy in 1996. There have been many significant changes in the mean time in the realm of agriculture development, more so in the post-WTO regime. Therefore, this is an appropriate time to take note of the changing situation and bring out a policy to meet the present challenges in the sector.
Agriculture in Odisha
The State has about 64.09 lakh hectares of cultivable area out of total geographical area of 155.711 lakh hectares, accounting for 41.16 percent. Total cultivated area is about 61.50 lakh hectares. About 40.17 lakh hectares of cultivable area has acidic soil and approx. 4.00 lakh hectares suffers from salinity. About 3.00 lakh hectares of cultivable area suffers from water logging. Agriculture contributes about 26% in the State Gross Domestic Product (SGDP). About 65% of the workforce depends on agriculture for their employment.
The average size of holding in the State is 1.25 ha. The small and marginal farmers constitute about 83% of the farming community.
The State is divided into 10 Agro-climatic zones on the basis of soil structure, humidity, elevation, topography, vegetation, rainfall and other agroclimatic factors.
The average rainfall in the State is 1452 mm, of which about 80% is confined to monsoon months (June-September). The total irrigation potential created is 27.63 lakh hectares in Kharif and 13.31 lakh hectares in Rabi.
The total food grain production in the State during 2007-08 is estimated to be 92.13 lakh tones which is approx. 4.06 percent of national food grain production. Rice is the main crop of the State. Agriculture in Odisha is characterized by low productivity on account of various factors. These factors include problematic soil (acidic, saline & waterlogged), lack of assured irrigation, low seed replacement rate, low level of fertilizer consumption (53 kg/ha. against national average of 113 kg/ha.), low level of mechanization etc. The serious gaps in yield potential and the technology transfer provide an opportunity to the State to increase production and productivity substantially.