The Agro-Economic Research Centre (AERC) for the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan was established in July 1961 at the Sardar Patel University, Vallabh Vidyanagar by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, New Delhi. It was late Shri H.M. Patel (ICS retd.) who not only provided the vision for establishing such an Institute but also ensured the much needed support and encouragement for its growth at Vallabh Vidyanagar. AERC has been working as an associate institution of S. P. University and enjoying autonomy status in its working. The Centre has completed 52 glorious years (1961-2013) of its journey marked by both achievements and challenges. During these years, the Centre has emerged as a strong policy feedback centre of the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India due to hard work and strong commitment of the staff in the Centre. The focus of research effort in the initial stage was on comprehensive village surveys and resurveys in order to understand the process and direction of change at the village level. Subsequently, the emphasis of research has shifted to problem oriented studies.
The Centre has by now completed 152 problem-oriented studies, 21 village surveys and 4 village resurveys. Most of these research projects have been taken up by Centre on the recommendation of the Government of India and State Governments of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Some of the projects have also been sponsored by other national and international organizations. During its long journey, the Centre has brought remarkable improvement in every aspects of research including methodological base of the studies. The studies have come out with useful findings and policy implications for agricultural and rural development of the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Many seminars and conferences were organized by the Centre (jointly with Department of Economics) during these years. Since 1970, the Centre has been also organizing the work of Comprehensive Scheme to Study Cost of Cultivation of Principal Crops in Gujarat entrusted to the S P University by the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India. Ever since its inception, the Centre has been working in close collaboration with the Post-graduate Department of Economics of the S. P. University and so far it has helped/supported about 35 scholars to successfully complete their Ph. D. work in agricultural economics.
The principle objectives of the Centre have been as follows:
- To make continuous study of the change in rural economy by means of surveys of villages each year, to be repeated after an interval of five years.
- To conduct adhoc investigation on problems of interest to the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation and the State Governments under their jurisdiction.
- To undertake research on fundamental problems relating to the agricultural economy of the country, and
- To give technical advice to the Government of India and to the State Governments on such important issues as, with mutual agreement, may be referred to the Centre.
The area of coverage of the Centre is as follows:
- Gujarat State
- Rajasthan State
- Dadra and Nagar Haveli