Manipur’s Chief Minister received Krishi Karman Award, 2017-18 for the highest production of food grains amongst those states who produce less than ten lakh tonnes of food grain. The award should have made us feel that Manipur is doing better now in agriculture. However, the devil lies in the details of the latest economic survey report of Manipur. When we look closely at the details of food grain production and the crop production of the past years, we not only see an increase in production but also an increasing amount of suffering for the producers who actually toiled for this award.
The food grain production has increased by 3.14 percent, from 504.78 to 520.65 thousand tonnes. 98 percent of food grain that the state produced in 2017-18 is rice. If we go in the details of the matter, we see that the farm price, which the cultivator in the villages get for settling their paddy, has declined for both autumn and winter paddy between 2016-17 and 2017-18. For autumn paddy, it declined from Rs. 1593 to 1550 per quintal and from Rs. 1636 to Rs. 1612 per quintal for winter paddy. It reveals that the increase production of paddy coincides with a decline in farm prices. More production means more supply; therefore we should expect a decline in the retail prices. However, on the contrary the average retail price of local rice increased from Rs. 3200 per quintal in 2017 to Rs. 3300 per quintal in 2018, reaching upto Rs 3800 in the month of December 2018. We gain more clarity on the matter when we look at the wholesale prices of milled rice, it increased from Rs. 2875 in 2017 to Rs. 3117 to 2018 per quintal. This indicates that those who are trading in rice have benefited more than the consumers who are buying the rice from the retail shops, even with increased production. It shows that the increased production is not bringing the price of the milled rice down.
If we want to look at the situation of the farmers and cultivators, we should look at the gross state domestic product data and net state domestic product data at constant prices for crop production for 2016-17 and 2017-18 in the latest economic survey report. The principal crops which the economic survey mentions are paddy, maize, mustard seeds, chilies, ginger, potato, cabbage, cauliflower, banana, pineapple, papaya and sugarcane. Prices at which farmers sell only potato, cabbage, cauliflower and maize have increased for the respective years. For mustard seeds, ginger, banana, pineapple, papaya and sugarcane, the prices which farmers get for selling these crops have declined between 2016-17 and 2017-18. The prices which farmers get for selling banana between 2016-17 and 2017-18 have declined, from Rs. 3356 per quintal to Rs 2844. We see a sharp decline in mustard seed farm prices also, from Rs. 4200 to Rs 3000 per quintal. Given this, the gross state domestic product at constant prices, which saw a steady increase between 2011 and 2015, has declined from 144305 Lakhs in 2016-17 to 137804 Lakhs in 2017-18. The negative growth in GSDP for crop production is more than 4.5 percent. And, the NSDP at constant prices declined more than 6 percent between 2016-17 to 2017-18. However, it was steady increasing between 2011 to 2015.
These numbers clearly reveals that even though there is an increased production of food grains for which the state gets the Krishi Karman Award, there is negative growth in GSDP and NSDP for crop production. Further, it does not make sense to attribute the decline in net and gross state domestic product for crops to either surging or declining armed conflict given the numbers. So, we must look for the answer in some other direction.
Krishi Karman Award should not cover the things which the recent Good Governance Index revealed. Manipur came last in the good governance index amongst the NE and Hill state. If we look at the methodology for preparing the index, performance in agriculture and allied sectors is one indicator. In agriculture and allied sectors performance, Manipur came last according to the Good Governance Index. The performance in agriculture and allied sector is prepared using the data of growth in the sector, food grain production, horticulture production, milk and meat production and crop insurance which the cultivators and farmers get from the government. The agriculture and allied sector has seen negative growth when we see the GSDP and NSDP data at constant prices. On top of that, the national crop insurance scheme, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, does not cover Manipur at all along with Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram. We have more to worry about. As per report published by the Hindu on its May 17, 2019, it seems that the scheme has failed. The central government has only spent Rs. 8 crores out of Rs. 1400 crores earmarked for this scheme till the mid of 2019. The state is facing huge problems in agriculture and allied sectors given these issues. The people of Manipur should be intelligent enough to understand that we need to do a lot more in agriculture and allied sector so that we can appreciate ourselves. We need to produce more than 1 lakh tonnes of food grain in order to become self sufficient in food grain production, according to economic survey data. We should first cast away the devil in the details, then we should go for thabal chongba. Otherwise, it is not very intelligent.