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Agriculture as per Economic Survey 2011

Observing that Indian agriculture is at a “crossroads”, the Economic Survey on Friday called for a Second Green Revolution with newer technological breakthroughs and higher investment in the sector, even while projecting 5.4 per cent farm growth this year.

“… The agriculture sector in India is at a crossroads, with rising demand for food items and relatively slower supply response in many commodities resulting in frequent spikes in food inflation,” the pre-budget survey said.

The survey said the agriculture and allied sectors would register 5.4 per cent growth this fiscal due to a good monsoon, compared to a mere 0.4 per cent expansion last year.

But the sector needs to grow at 8.5 per cent next fiscal to achieve the targeted 4 per cent growth in the Eleventh Plan (2007-12).

Pointing out that the technological breakthroughs achieved in the 1960s are gradually waning and no big crop-tech has come up since then, the survey noted, “The need for a Second Green Revolution is being experienced more than ever before.”

The survey outlined the special attention that needs to be given to increasing production of nutrition-rich crops like pulses, fruits and vegetables, which remained untouched in the first Green Revolution.

Consequently, it suggested that Indian agriculture should diversify from just crop farming to livestock, fisheries, poultry and horticulture, besides focusing on raising farm productivity with adequate focus on rain-fed areas.

The survey also felt that augmenting farm production still remains a challenge, with stagnation in crop acreage and yields, and prescribed “concerted and focused efforts” to overcome this challenge.

“A holistic approach, simultaneously working on agriculture research, development, dissemination of technology and provision of agricultural inputs and irrigation, would help achieve the critical levels of productivity needed,” it said.

It noted that higher farm output is important not only for the country’s food security, but also to sustain high growth.

Calling for higher public and private investment in the farm sector, the survey said, “The choice before the nation is clear — to invest more in agriculture and allied sectors with the right strategies, policies and interventions. This is also a necessary condition for ‘inclusive growth’”

Higher level of investments are required for increasing farm productivity and also create infrastructure for transport, storage and distribution of agricultural produce, it added.

“The relatively weak supply responses to price hikes in agriculture commodities, especially food articles, in the recent past brings back in to focus the central question of efficient supply chain management and need for sustained levels of growth in agriculture and allied sectors,” it observed.

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