Gujarat, a coastal state in Western India neighboring Pakistan, hosts over 60 million people. Gujarat's economic growth has been acclaimed for the last two decades, higher than average and private sector driven, raising in particular the performance of the agriculture and industrial sectors.
For instance, the milk revolution from the Gujarat dairy cooperative Amul (Anand Milk Union Limited) has lifted many small herders out of poverty, and is seen as a model for rural development that is now replicated in neighboring Rajasthan. However, inequity between cities and rural districts has widened and some social and health indicators are still alarming.
The state still has a high prevalence of undernourished children. The sex ratio of 918 women to 1,000 males, is one of the lowest among Indian states, highlighting the need for greater women empowerment.
Gujarat's climate is quite varied with 8 agroclimatic zones but it is mostly characterized by its water scarcity, as 70% of its territory can be classified as semi-arid or arid. For instance, in North Gujarat, the Rann of Kutch is a seasonally marshy saline clay desert located in the Thar desert. The sector has invested in irrigation facilities but the state suffers from groundwater depletion and soil salinity.
Cotton, groundnuts, fruits like dates, sugarcane, milk and milk products constitute the major agricultural produce of the state. Annual agricultural growth rate has been around 9% while the all-India average is merely 3%. With the development of cooperatives, investment in research (the state has four agricultural universities) and infrastructure, the farming sector has been radically transformed. However, for two-thirds of the farmers who own less than 2 hectares, live in remote areas, and are less connected to market opportunities, farming is still a challenge.