After a severe drought hitting the farm sector in 2009, agricultural production is expected to rebound this year if the weather gods remain kind on the country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday.

“With a normal monsoon this year, we can expect a strong rebound in agricultural production,” Mr. Singh said at the full Planning Commission meeting here.

The Prime Minister said although the performance of the farm sector remained depressed during the first three years of the 11th Plan, growth would be higher than the 10th Plan, and could reach close to the targeted 4 per cent during the current Plan period (2007-12).

Agricultural production is estimated to fall by 0.2 per cent in 2009-10 mainly due to a drop in Kharif output because of the drought and floods in several parts of the country last year.

“.... The severe drought we faced in 2009-10 has depressed the average performance in the first three years... the mid-term appraisal suggests that agricultural growth will definitely be better than during the 10th Plan,” Mr. Singh said.

The Prime Minister said the country can achieve close to 4 per cent agricultural growth if various schemes for supporting agriculture production, expanding irrigation and building rural infrastructure are implemented well during the remaining two years of the current Plan.

Over 300 districts were hit due to the drought last year affecting Kharif production. Rice production is estimated to have declined by 12 million tonne in the 2009 Kharif season.

The country’s foodgrain production is pegged at 216.85 million tonne in the 2009-10 season as against a record 234.47 million tonne in the previous season.

The Prime Minister, however, noted that “the drought has been managed much better than in the past, with a much smaller negative effect on output.”

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