Paper - Agriculture in Maharashtra

B.H. Jain, Chairman,
Jain Irrigation Systems Limited, Jalgaon


Agriculture has progressed a long way in India from an era of frequent droughts and vulnerability to food shortages, to become a significant exporter of a diversified basket of agricultural commodities. Maharashtra accounts for nearly 9% of the total agricultural income of the country. The state has major area under jowar. Forty three per cent of the total area under jowar is in Maharashtra. The productivity of some of the food crops like wheat, paddy and cash crops such as cotton has however remained low. The net sown area of 18 million ha is distributed among nearly 10 million farm holdings. The state government have invested substantial amount in agriculture infrastructure like irrigation, fertiliser industry. However, only 16% of the land is under irrigation. As much as 76 % of the irrigation water is used for sugarcane grown on 3 % of the cultivated area. The water resources are scarce, therefore improved methods of water management is imperative. In the last 10 to 12 years, drip irrigation has become most popular, particularly in crops like grapes, pomegranate, banana, sugarcane, cotton etc. The increased water use efficiency helps conserve scarce resources including capital investment for additional water storages as well as brings additional area under irrigation at much lesser cost. Sixty percent of the area under drip in the country is located in Maharashtra.

The state is implementing the project on horticulture in about 1 million ha. Under this project the state has recorded an impressive growth rate of about 20% far ahead of many states in the country. Crops like grapes, pomegranate, and processed banana are exported earning valuable foreign exchange. Inspite of natural advantages, there are no vibrant food processing industries in the state. Most of the vegetables and fruits produced are not suitable for processing and/or exports. Post-harvest wastage is more than 20%. Efforts should be taken to establish viable food processing industries in the state so that farmers are able to get remunerative returns to their produce.

The new developments in biotechnology are revolutionising agriculture. Traditional microorganisms like moulds and yeasts are being geared to increase productivity. Tissue culture techniques are used to micropropogate elite clones of banana, ornamental plants, agroforestry crops like teak, bamboo etc. Genetically modified plants like cotton, soyabean are becoming popular. New formulations of bio-pesticides and bio-fertilizers are increasingly popular in the state. The paper gives an overview of current scenario of agriculture in the state and discusses in detail, the potential and suggests exploiting the exemplary capabilities of the progressive farmers, so as to lead the state to brighter 21st century.



Bhavarlalji Hiralalji Jain (Bhau)
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