Agriculture

Agriculture is the key to the overall development of the State economy.  Agriculture is the backbone of Bihar's economy 77% of workforce and generating nearly 24.84% of the State Domestic Product. The percentage of population employed in agriculture production system in Bihar is estimated to 77%, which s much higher than the national average. Nearly 24.84% of GDP of the state (2011-12) has been from agriculture sector (including forestry and fishing). The state has attained self sufficiency in food grains production. Barring maize and pulses productivity of various farm produce in Bihar is much below the national average. Though the area under cultivation is shrinking, there is tremendous scope for income generation, by improving productivity. Adverse climatic condition, like draught and floods, do play a role in decreasing products. But these adverse conditions can be overcome to some extent by irrigation, flood control and drainage schemes. The agriculture production can only be increased to some extent through enhanced cropping intensity, change in cropping pattern, improvement in seeds of high yielding varieties, cultivation practices and with the availability of better post harvest technology etc. State Govt. is trying to re-orient agriculture through diversification policy and other measures.

Agriculture is the single largest private sector occupation in Bihar. The goal of the agriculture production system should be to maximize income of land owing and landless rural populace to improve their livelihoods. The vulnerability to income and consumption shocks makes it imperative to develop formal agriculture insurance mechanisms to cope with such risks.

Objectives: The objective of the agriculture policy in the state is to increase productivity of major crops so as to bring it close to national average. Opening up of markets has necessitated increased production at competitive prices. Adapting as well as popularizing proven Research and Development efforts is also important.

Strategy: Two strategies adopted for increasing agriculture production and productivity are research and extension i.e. from labs to farms. Delivery systems to make available quality seeds, pesticides and extension system to farmers are also being strengthened.

SWOT Analysis of Bihar Agriculture
Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats

1. The soils are light, alluvium - derived soils mostly khaddar (recent alluvium) and hanger (Old alluvium). In many places the soils are deep, loamy and high in organic matter content and hence very suitable for intensive cultivation.

1. The average operational holding size is only 0.75 ha, which is further fragmented to 3–4 parcels. This makes farm operations difficult and economically unsustainable.

1.  By providing quality seed and planting material to farmers overall productivity can easily be increased 2–3 times.

1. Due to land tenancy laws, the operational holdings will be further getting smaller which may reduce the scope for intensive agriculture.

2. The state has high irrigation potential since water table is high.

2. The population pressure in this region is exceedingly high. The population density is 1102/Sq.Km. as against the national average of 382/Sq.Km. Due to high density of population and less resources, more number of people are dependent on agriculture and the percentage of population below the poverty line is 42.60% as against the national average of 26.10%.

2. The region receives good rainfall and the water table is high. By adopting proper water management practices the entire agricultural land can be converted into irrigated land, whereby maximum benefit can be derived from the quality seed of improved varieties

2. At the interface of diminishing contribution of agriculture sector to the state GDP, there is a danger that the future allocations for agricultural development and more particularly for supply of quality seed material, may not get adequate priority in fund allocations

3. Rice-Wheat cropping system is most predominant. The average rice yield in this region was found between 1,900–2,100 kg/ha and that of wheat between 2,740–2,770 kg/ha. However, according to the projections of Rice–Wheat Consortium, with good management it has a potential of giving more than twice the current yield.

3. Although there are Directorates of Agriculture, Horticulture, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry, but their extension services in terms of creating awareness about new technologies, conducting field demonstrations, conducting training programmes and providing latest information to farmers are very poor.

3. The area has good potential of growing good quality fruits and vegetables. The region has also high population density. By adopting scientific methods of production, making best use of agricultural labour force and by using proper Post-Harvest Technology at farm/village level, the production of horticultural crops can be increased many folds.

3. The region has good rainfall but also receives floods during monsoon. Unless proper attention is given to proper soil conservation, drainage and water management programmes, the water logging and soil erosion problems may take serious turn in future and it would be difficult to maintain soil fertility.

4. The region has good climate. Predominantly there are three seasons—hot summer (April–June), hot and humid rainy season (July–October) and cool dry winter (November–March). The growing period ranges from 180–210 days in a year. Two crops are common but with irrigation, third crop can also be taken during summer. 4. The State does not have a clear-cut policy to encourage and promote use of quality seed of improved varieties in different crops, which is a major draw back of the state agriculture sector 4. The region has good opportunity of seed processing activities in the production catchments for increased income and employment and to wipe out hunger and  poverty. 4.  In absence of proper storage facilities, heavy losses is being incurred, may continue in future also.
5. The rainfall in the region is appreciable, ranging between 1,050–1,300 mm. 5. Although about 70% of the villages are electrified, but electricity is not available for more than 10 hours a day. The farmers cannot depend on electric supply for irrigation and other agricultural operations and are dependent on diesel engines. 5. With proper infrastructural support the region can emerge as a big supplier of agri-products and can supply its produce to big markets of nearby states.  
6. The region has a number of ICAR Research Institutes and their Regional Stations, Agricultural Universities, Centres of All India Coordinated Research Projects, and Krishi Vigyan Kendras to support the current and ensuing programmes   6. Availability of high quality planting material will encourage the production of high value crops substantially.  
7. State has good potential for quality seed production of field crops, fruits and vegetables.      
8. Working force is available at cheaper rate.