Bringing Green Revolution in Eastern India (BGREI)
BGREI refers to “Bringing Green Revolution in Eastern India”. This programme was an outcome of recommendations of a Task Force in 2009 to assess the existing scenario of water resources development, utilization and management of food grains production in the country, with a particular reference to North-Western and Eastern India, taking in to consideration the problems being faced due to over-exploitation of water resources in the States like Punjab , Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh as well as to generate recommendations for developing infrastructure relating to water, power, marketing, storage and rural connectivity in Eastern and North Eastern regions of the country to support sustainable agricultural production. This task force recommended that
- The higher agricultural production and productivity in western region is mainly because of access to irrigation which is predominantly from ground water sources. Significant contribution of food-grains to the central pool is at the cost of annual negative balance in the ground water reserves for these states. There is, therefore, need for water conservation and management measures in this region focusing on water saving and productivity enhancement technologies to ensure that it does not adversely affect the overall farm economies and more importantly, its contribution to the food buffer stock.
- As a step towards demand management of water, a gradual shift of rice, sugarcane, aquaculture and other water guzzling crops from North-Western India to Eastern States is required.
- Towards promoting efficiency in water management, a system of incentivisation can be worked out linking it to providing energy to the farmers based on land holdings and innovative precision farming practices in consultation with the State Governments. Pressurized irrigation/Microirrigationshould become an integral part of minor irrigation structures.
- To compensate the losses in the area of cultivation and production of rice, sugarcane, aquaculture etc. in North-Western India, irrigation potential can be harnessed to increase agricultural production and productivity in the eastern and north-eastern regions.
- However, any measure of crop diversification should be done in a phased manner and this should be preceded by ensuring adequate availability of inputs viz; high yielding variety seeds, nutrient application, precision farming technology etc; developing adequate infra-structure in water management, post-harvest requirement and rural connectivity, energizing the water management network through a three phase dedicated electrical grid; and strengthening supply chain from farm gate to the market;
- As more risk prevails in agricultural activities in the Eastern and North-Eastern regions their being vulnerable to natural calamities such as floods, cyclones, drought etc; farmers in these states should be protected against such disasters through appropriate safety nets such as effective warning system, insurance coverage, contingent plans, farm advisories, soft loans and credit facilities etc;
- Since the farm holdings in Eastern India are small, alternate income-generating activities through livestock, aquaculture, tree planting and other income support activities needs to be integrated with the agricultural practices; and
- As in energy sector there is a need to develop policies for pricing of water in the agriculture sector. This would go a long way in promoting judicious use of this scare natural resource.
With the above recommendations in focus, the BGREI program was launched in the year 2010-11 in seven States of Eastern India namely; Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal based on strategic action plans developed by these States as a sub-scheme of Rastriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.
The programme has been a success. The eastern region of the country, which has occasionally hit the headlines for starvation deaths, has turned into a food surplus zone, thanks to BGREI Programme. The Government announced in February 2012 that BGREI resulted in a robust increase in food grain production. Rice production from the region is estimated at 562.6 lakh tonnes, an increase of 19.8% over the last year. The increase across the country is estimated at 7%. Overall food grain production from the region is estimated at 1,032 lakh tonnes, an increase of 11.9% against an all-India increase of 2.2%. This is good news for policymakers, who have been battling stubbornly high food inflation for nearly two years. Food inflation has turned negative after hovering near double-digits while vegetable prices have fallen consistently for the past few months. The improvement in supply is expected to ease the pressure on the food inflation front.
The programme gained momentum in 2011-12 with the focus on rice and wheat and strategic interventions relating to crop production, water harvesting and recycling, asset building and site specific activities needed for improving the agronomy.
According to the government, the increased production was due to focused resource allocation and utilization. The significant increase in production of foodgrains in the region not only offset the decline in production in central and peninsular India but also contributed significantly to the highest ever production of foodgrains. The growth in foodgrains provides an opportunity to procure and create reserves locally, reducing the pressure on Punjab and Haryana, and cutting costs on transport and other logistics, the government said. It said the focus would now be to consolidate the gains with continued emphasis during the 12th fiveyear plan, which begins in April. Further steps would be taken to improve the infrastructure for procurement and storage of the produce and to ensure a reasonable price for farmers.