Madhya Pradesh has been continuously drawing attention of other states because of its agricultural growth in recent years. Some of its districts, which used to have very low productivity, are now contributing significantly in the agricultural development. Umaria is one such district where agriculture was not considered profitable. But record production growth of paddy in the district during last year has resulted to economic growth of the district, and the place has been a significant contributor to the agricultural development of the state. Agriculture, still, continues to be major source of employment and livelihood. The growth has consequently propelled the rural economic development of Madhya Pradesh, and has provided new avenues for the development of agro-based industries.
Umaria is known for Bandhavgarh National Park, and large number of tourists flock the district each year. But the overall development of the district was not possible only through promotion of tourism; agriculture had to be aligned with it. However, farmers were apathetic towards adopting modern and innovative practices in farming. As a result, crop production remained low. During the last few years, district administration made concerted efforts for agriculture development; the place experienced a record increase of 175 percent in paddy production. And it has drawn the attention of other states. Such a growth in a year’s time had not been witnessed before in the country.
The total cultivable area of the district in 2012 was 83.03 hectares, which increased to 102.86 in 2013 with 23 percent increase in total cultivatable area. Out of total area under cultivation, there was 20 percent increase in paddy sown area from 40.07 thousand hectares in 2012 to 48.09 thousands hectares in 2013. Though there is only 20 percent increase in net sown area, but the total paddy productivity increased by 129 percent. Between 2012 and 2013, rice production shot up from 1095 kg/hectares to 2509 kg/hectares. In 2013, 1,20,657 metric tonnes of rice production against just 43,876 metric tonnes of production in 2012.
Rajesh Tripathi, District Project Director at ATMA Project, says, “We have launched intensive campaign for enhancing rice production in the district. Last year, we started SRI Rath Abhiyan for the first time. We have trained farmers in the district as ‘Kisan Mitra’ and ‘Kisan Didi’. These trained youths were given the responsibility to take forward this campaign. The chariot called ‘Kisan Rath’ was moved to 450 villages in the district. By forming the cluster of 3-4 villages. Supply of Cono Weeder ,used under SRI (System of Rice Intensification) method, was ensured more than its demand so that there should not any shortage in supply, then the demand of it increased.”
Gram Choupal, attended by a District Collector in many villages, was organized on weekly basis. All these have very positive impact upon farmers. With the increase in net paddy sown area using SRI method, rice production also increased enormously. In some areas, farmers have not completely adopted SRI method, but have experimented in certain areas.
S.K. Upadhya, District Collector of Umaria, says, “Many farmers in the district were awarded at state and national levels for marked improvement in agricultural productivity. Their achievements have motivated other farmers in the district, and more farmers are adopting SRI method.”
Harichandra Tiwari, who has taken up agricultural activities after his retirement, observes, “After retirement, I started cultivating paddy in 25 acres of land using SRI method and other modern methods of cultivation. As a result, the net profit from agriculture was about Rs.13.49 lacs through the production of about 62.75 quintals/acre. Now I feel that my family would have been economically more empowered, if I had taken up agricultural activities earlier after voluntary retirement.”
The increase in crop production, owing to SRI method, has such a large scale impact that attraction towards agriculture has revived. It has provided new avenues for development of agro-based industries. Agriculture has been developed as an imperative source to overcome substantial poverty in Umaria.