Agriculture growth target at 4 % for 12th Plan: Montek

New Delhi, Feb 5 (PTI) The Planning Commission todaysaid the annual agriculture growth target for the 12th FiveYear Plan (2012-17) would be set at 4 per cent as it was inthe previous two plans.

The Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek SinghAhluwalia also said, "During the current five year plan(2007-12) we are likely to achieve average farm growth ofabout 3.5 per cent, which would be little lower than targeted4 per cent."

Ahluwalia who was conferred a doctorate degree ofscience by Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) here,stressed on the need for more investment in agricultureresearch.

"The investment in farm research should be 2 per cent ofagriculture gross domestic product (GDP) which ranges from0.5-0.6 per cent at present," he said.

Ahluwalia also expressed concerns over relatively loweragriculture yields in India compared to the developed world.

He pointed out that production could be increased only byreducing knowledge deficit.

The government expects the agriculture sector growthoutput during 2010-11 at over 6 per cent, which is the highestin the Eleventh Plan.

The farm growth is significant in the back drop of highfood prices in the country. The performance of the farm sectorwas dismal in the previous fiscal as the growth was just 0.2per cent against the annual average target of 4 per cent inthe 11th Plan (2007-12), on account of widespread drought.

In the first year of the 11th Plan, the farm growth wasrecorded at 4.7 per cent, which slowed down to 1.6 per cent in2008-09.

Besides, the annual average farm growth during the 10thPlan (2002-07) also missed the 4 per cent target, and grewinstead at the rate of 2.13 per cent.

The deceleration in agriculture growth, which began inthe Ninth Plan (1997-02) period, has become a major area ofconcern as half of country''s population derives greater partof their income from agriculture.

The annual average farm growth which was 4.72 per centin 8th Plan (1992-97), slowed down to 2.44 in 9th Plan andfurther to 2.13 per cent in 10th Plan period.

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