Despite agriculture and allied activities accounting for only 14.1 per cent of the GDP in 2011-12, the Economic Survey recognises the sector’s role in the country’s economy as ‘much bigger’ with its share in total employment being as high as 58.2 per cent.

Fast agriculture growth and reforms in the sector remain vital for jobs, income and food security, the Survey notes, while reinforcing the need for setting the growth target at 4 per cent. In the last five years, the growth rate achieved has been an average of 3.6 per cent, which remained short of the target of 4 per cent.

“While it may appear that the performance of the agriculture and allied sector has fallen short of the target, production has improved remarkably, growing twice as fast as the population,’’ the Survey notes.

Foodgrains production was at a record high of 259.32 million tonnes in 2011-12 at a time when there were food shortages in many parts of the world and steep hikes in food prices.

“Indian agriculture performed well primarily due to time policy interventions,’’ the Survey notes adding that there was a need for improvements in yields to achieve self-sufficiency in food as well as have enough surplus to make a place in international market. Another challenge is how to maximise agriculture income while adopting a more sustainable strategy as well as adopt better management practices for rehabilitation of degraded lands and water resources.