Farm sector growth will be higher this year: Swaminathan

July 9th, 2008 - 11:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, July 9 (IANS) With the south-west monsoon predicted to be normal, the agriculture sector growth is expected to be more this fiscal (2008-09) than the previous one (2007-08) at 4.5 percent, eminent agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan said here Wednesday. “The outlook for the agriculture sector this year is good. The growth rate will be more than last fiscal. Of course, it depends on how good the monsoon progresses though it is predicted to be normal despite some aberration. I hope the sector will sustain the growth to be higher than last year,” Swaminathan told IANS.

The agricultural and allied sectors grew by 4.5 percent during 2007-08 against 3.8 percent in 2006-07 on account of above normal monsoon.

The sector, on which about 60-70 percent of the population depends for its livelihood, lifted the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth to nine percent from the earlier projection of 8.7 percent.

As per the fourth advance estimates of crop production, the food grain production for 2007-08 is estimated at 230.67 million tonnes.

According to a report released by Agriculture Secretary P.K. Mishra, the total food grain production includes rice production at 96.43 million tonnes, wheat at 78.40 million tonnes, coarse cereals at 40.73 million tonnes, pulses at 15.11 million tonnes and oilseeds at 28.82 million tonnes.

Admitting that production and distribution of fertilisers to farmers has been a cause for concern, Swaminathan said the administration did not prepare in advance to supply these in time to farmers for commencing sowing operations.

“Unfortunately, distribution of fertilisers to farmers has not been proper this time. Normally, these things are planned six months in advance because everyone knows that we have two major crop seasons - kharif (summer) and rabi (winter) and when these (seasons) start,” he said.

“Purchase of fertilisers is completed by May after clearance from the finance ministry as part of the system,” Swaminathan said on the sidelines of a public lecture on “Scientific management of the impact of climate change on agriculture,” at the prestigious Indian Institute of Science (IISc) here.

On the status of the recommendations made by the committee he headed for ushering in the evergreen revolution in the farm sector, Swaminathan said the central government was looking into the report and hoped they would be implemented soon.

The Swaminathan Committee has recommended a five-point programme to the government to revive the agriculture sector and prevent farmers from committing suicide over debt burden and poor remuneration from farm produce.

The programme consists of soil health card to all farmers, water harvesting and conservation, credit and insurance to farmers and their families (parivar bima policy), appropriate technologies, including ICT (information and communication technology) and assured remunerative marketing to ensure higher return on produce, with fool-proof linkages from farm to consumer.

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