Cultivable land in India has declined by around 8 lakh hectare in the last five years due to shift to non-agricultural purposes, Parliament was informed on Tuesday.

As compared to 1,83,186 thousand hectares during 2003-04, the agricultural land in the country has come down to 1,82,385 thousand hectares during 2008-09, Minister of State for Agriculture Harish Rawat said in a written reply to Lok Sabha.

He said these farm lands were being used for non-agricultural purposes including buildings, roads and railways.

Mr. Rawat noted, however, that as a result of various initiatives taken by the government to enhance production and productivity in the agriculture sector, the production of foodgrains has increased considerably.

He said the marginal decline in the agricultural land is not likely to have any adverse impact on farm production.

Further, to increase the agricultural area and for maintaining balance in its use for different purposes, the government is implementing various programmes/schemes.

These include National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA) and Soil Conservation in the Catchments of River Valley projects and Flood Prone Rivers (RVP & FPR) among others, the minister added.

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