Revival of agriculture a must for inclusive growth: PM

September 17th, 2008 - 9:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Sep 17 (IANS) Revival of agriculture, which has grown at an average of 3.5 percent in past four years, is a must for self-sufficiency in food grains and inclusive growth, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here Wednesday.India should pay due attention to be self sufficient in food grains, as the available indicators suggest that the country is entering “a decade of rising commodity prices, particularly in the case of food grains”, he said while speaking at a conference of governors and lieutenant governors.

“Good performance in agriculture is especially necessary to make growth process inclusive, both socially and regionally,” the prime minister said.

“After a decade of stagnation, the agriculture sector is reviving,” Singh said, adding that measures taken by his government in the agriculture sector were showing good results.

“The rate of growth of agriculture has averaged 3.5 percent in the last four years as compared to two percent in the six years of the previous government,” said the prime minister.

Indian agriculture, the mainstay for over 75 percent of the country’s billion plus population, logged a 4.5 percent growth in the last fiscal, and expected to grow at three percent this year.

He said there has been a record procurement of about 22.5 million tonnes of wheat in the rabi season of 2007-08, and procurement of rice went up to 26.7 million tonnes from 24.6 million tonnes during this period.

“Available indicators suggest that we are entering a decade of rising commodity prices, particularly in the case of food grains. It is, therefore, highly important that India should pay adequate attention to self-sufficiency in food grains,” he said.

The prime minister also referred to his various initiatives like Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and the National Food Security Mission to attain the goal of food security.

“Agricultural loans of about Rs.70,000 crore (Rs.700 billion) have been waived to help Indian farmers,” he said.

Referring to a significant increase in procurement prices, the prime minister said: “We have kept the issue price of wheat and rice unchanged under the targeted public distribution system.”

He urged upon the state governments to assist in the control of inflation by keeping a strict watch on the activities of hoarders and unscrupulous traders.

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