Eco-Survey paints a gloomy picture of agriculture

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New Delhi, Feb 28 (UNI) The Economic Survey (2007-08) tabled in Parliament today painted a gloomy outlook for agriculture, forestry and fishing sector, putting its growth estimate at 2.6 per cent during the last fiscal against the previous year's growth of 3.8 per cent which can pull down the overall GDP growth.

''Acceleration of growth of this sector will not only push the overall GDP growth upwards, it would make the growth more inclusive and biased in favour of women... Besides increasing farm income is also necessary for an equitable growth,'' said the Survey.

The foodgrain production increased on an average of 2.5 per cent compared to growth of population averaged at 2.1 per cent till 2006-07. However, it decelerated to 1.2 per cent during 190-2007, lower than the population growth of 1.9 per cent during the period.

Total foodgrain production is estimated at 219.3 million tonnes- (according to second of the fifth and final estimate), around 2 millions tonnes (mt) more than last year.

Production of pulses and cotton stagnating at 14.3 mt and 234 million bales (each of 170 kg), oilseed's estimated to register a slight increase at 27.2 mt. Rice production is likely to be at last year's level of 93 to 94 mt but that of wheat estimated to come down 74.8 mt against last year's fiscal tally of 75.8 mt. The sugarcane output is also estimated to come down 340 mt against last year's at 355.5 mt.

Many variables are responsible for agricultural growth like technology, whose growth trend is negligible at zero per cent, gross increase in irrigated area slacked to 0.5 per cent, terms of trade for agriculture are still negative at -1.7 per cent, net sown area growth is too negative at -0.2 per cent and enhancement in cropping intensity at 0.1 per cent. However, area under fruits and vegetables is increasing so the production by 8.9 per cent in 2006-07. But it came down to 2.8 per cent next year due to stagnation in production of spices.

Now horticulture contributed around 28 per cent of agriculture GDP. And animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries contributes 4 per cent of the total GDP while share of agriculture and its allied sector is around 18.5 per cent in 2006-07.

That is why, mere growth in institutional credit by over 14.4 per cent till 2005-06 and doubled during past two years, has not result in commensurating growth in agriculture.

The gross capital formation in agriculture as proportion to the total capital formation has shown a continuous decline. But, of later, from 2000-01 shown an improvement from 9.6 per cent to 12.5 per cent.

The Survey underlined that the long-term policy framework at broad sectoral level needs to be strengthened and focused on improving inter and intra-sectoral linkages.

UNI JSS BJR GC1620

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