The extent of India's regional disparities has been an issue since many decades, and this concern has been partly motivated by a desire to alleviate poverty. Agriculture remains an important feature of the economic, cultural and political landscape in India. Orissa is one of the poorest States in India. Over the last four decades, there has been stagnation in agriculture in Orissa. During the period 1991 to 2008 the growth rate of agriculture in Orissa is lower than all India. Orissa agriculture is highly concentrated in low productive and high water consuming paddy cultivation with little diversification towards pulses, oilseeds and other high value crops (HVCs): included sugarcane, fruits and vegetables etc., which fetch higher net returns. It is also characterized by low use of fertilizer, energy and irrigation per unit area compared to other states. There is a need for increase in area under certified seed, irrigation and other productivity enhancing inputs to increase farmers' income in all crops. There are perceptible regional disparities with the Coastal Plain having a distinct advantage in agricultural production compared to the Central Table Land region, Northern Plateau and Eastern Ghats regions as better initial socio-economic conditions in the Coastal plains in 1971 are having positive influence in growth in later years. Significant income gains are possible through crop diversification from paddy to pulses, oilseeds and HVCs in upland rain fed areas in kharif (rainy) season, if proper drainage, institutional and policy support is provided in Eastern Ghats and Northern Plateau of Orissa.
Key words: Sugarcane, oilseeds, productivity, diversification.
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