Concerted efforts urged to improve farm sector performance

Special Correspondent
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With steep decline in the growth rate of agriculture sector becoming a matter of concern, experts want the government to make concerted efforts in a focussed manner to reverse the trend in the coming years.

The growth rate of the sector as a whole declined to 6.06 per cent in 2011-12 from 18.44 in 2010-11, while that of agriculture alone registering a negative growth of (-1.49 per cent). However, the annual plan for 2012-13 projected the sector's growth rate to be around 6 per cent during the 12th Five-Year-Plan. The production of food grains for 2011-12 is estimated to decline by about 30 lakh tonnes over the previous year—a decrease of 14.81 per cent from 203.14 lakh tonnes in 2010-11 to 173.05 tonnes in 2011-12.

Former economic advisor to State government D.A. Somayajulu said there was a substantial loss of Rs.18,000 crore during 2009-10 with a huge drop in food grain output compared to the previous year. Although the situation recovered during 2010-11, the State government messed it up by mismanagement.

The government failed in ensuring payment of MSP to farmers, which was a solemn assurance that had to be honoured. With the Food Corporation of India not buying the required quantity and the farmers unable to dispose of the stocks, the situation forced the distressed farmers to declare ‘crop holiday'.

He, however, said that if proper attention was paid to all the allied fields, including horticulture and fisheries, the agriculture sector's growth could be bettered.

A senior faculty member of A. P. Agricultural University said that 60 per cent of the productivity would depend on climate and 40 per cent on other factors such as inputs and management of pests. He expressed confidence that agriculture alone could achieve a growth rate of 4 per cent in the coming years if the nature was benevolent and irrigation projects completed speedily.

Free enterprise

He also suggested that agriculture should be treated as a free enterprise without any restrictions on movement of farm produce. Such a decision could turn it into a profit-making sector. The problem faced by a farmer was that all inputs used by him were in open market but the output was restricted. Why should farm produce be restricted when everything else was liberalised? State BJP's Kisan Morcha chief Shyam Kishore said that less allocation, increased costs, lack of labour and credit were some of the main reasons for decline in food grain output.



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