I. (i) Introduction

1.   The Maharashtra State is spread over an area of 3.07 Lakh Sq. km. The total population of the State  is 10.3  Crore  (estimated  2004-05),  out of which,  57.8  % population  is dependent  on agriculture. Agriculture plays an important role in the State’s economy. The total number of farmers in the State is 1.66 Crore, of which, 43 % and 27 % are small farmers and marginal farmers, respectively. The average land holding is 1.66 Ha.

2.   In the year 2008-09, the area under cultivation in the State was 22.66 Million Ha, which is 73.66 % out of the total physical area of 30.76 Million Ha. In the same year, the area under irrigation was 4.03 Million Ha, which is 17.78%. The food crops including cereals and pulses occupy 12.91 Million Ha (56.97%) area. The important Kharif crops are sorghum, millets, rice, pulses,  soybean,   groundnut,   sunflower,   sesame   and  cotton,  while  wheat,   yellow  gram, sunflower are grown in Rabi season. Sugarcane is also grown on a large area in the State. In the year 2008-09 the production of fruits, viz., grapes, mangoes, banana, oranges, sweet lime and pomegranate was 100.54 Lakh tonnes, and, the vegetable production had reached the level of 77.29 Lakh tonnes per annum.

3.   The productivity of important crops in the State is low as compared to average productivit y of these crops with national averages and averages for many other states. The productivity in other sectors  of agriculture  like  Animal  husbandry,  Dairy,  Fisheries  is also  low  as compared  to National Averages. The productivity levels in Agriculture are low mainly because irrigated area is low, most of the area is rainfed  and though technology  is available, it is not being fully adopted and improved practices are not followed to the full extent by farmers.

4.   The  data  on  arrivals  of  different  commodities  in  Agriculture  Produce  Market  Committees (APMCs) show that