Progress Since the Sixth Plan in Agricultural Sector

You may already be aware that of all the Plans, the Sixth Plan (1980-85) was welcomed as a great success, especially due to the success on the agricultural front. As against the annual growth rate of 3.8 per cent for agriculture, the real growth rate was 4.3 per cent. The production of food grains in 1983-84 was 152 million tonnes (opposed to the target of 154 million tonnes) and was welcomed by the Indian Government as the Second Green Revolution.

Whereas the First Green Revolution from 1967-68 arose from the launch of new high yielding varieties of Mexican wheat as well as dwarf rice varieties, the Second Green Revolution from 1983-84 was stated to be from expansion in supplies of inputs and services to farmers, better management and agricultural extension.

While the First Green Revolution was restricted mainly to Punjab, Haryana and Western U.P., the Second Green Revolution had extended to eastern and central states involving West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and eastern U.P. These states had made huge progress in recent years.

Notes: However, it is important to emphasise the fact that, despite all the great claims of the Government, none of the targets (except in oilseeds) of agricultural production was achieved during the Sixth Plan.

The Seventh Plan (1985-90), the Eighth Plan (1992-97) and the Ninth Plan (1997-2002) aimed at 4 per cent annual rate of growth and laid stress on specific projects in the field of agriculture. They involved an exclusive rice production programme in the eastern area, national watershed programme for rainfed agriculture, social forestry, national oilseeds development project, etc.

The Seventh Plan was not successful in the sense that the targets fixed for several sectors (except cotton) were not acquired. But, the level of production at the end of the Seventh Plan was much greater than at the start of the Seventh Plan.

The Eighth Plan (1992-97) was fundamentally sound in its approach in the strategy of development and in the targets of agricultural crops. Luckily, weather and climate conditions were favourable and widely many of the targets could be fulfilled.

Example: The actual outputs in 1996-97 (the last year of the Eighth Plan) of oilseeds, of sugar cane, of cotton and of jute were greater than the targets for these crops in the Eighth Plan.

The only exception was food grains – the Eighth Plan target was 210 million tonnes however the real production was 199 million tonnes. In truth, the production of food grains at 199 million tonnes was the highest output recorded by India till then.

The Ninth Plan (1997-2002) was not much of a success, so far as the agricultural targets were involved. For example, the Ninth Plan fixed the target of food grain production at 234 million tonnes in 2001-02, but the real production was only 211 million tonnes. The same story of under-achievement was to be observed in other sectors of agriculture also.

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