Finance minister P Chidambaram said on Friday that ensuring high farm sector growth on a sustained basis was the government’s topmost priority.
“The first charge on our resources is for agriculture, so that it grows at 4 per cent or more for the next 10-20 years,” Chidambaram said at a National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) here.
The finance minister’s comments came a day after latest official data projected that farm sector would grow at a slower pace of 2.6 per cent in 2007-08 against 3.8 per cent last year.
“Everything can wait except agriculture,” the finance minister said and added the government was prepared to set up a technology fund for the sector.
Chidambaram said a 4 per cent growth in the farm sector was achievable through appropriate technological interventions.
He sounded confident that final growth figures would be higher than the estimates. “We are confident that agricultural growth would be higher than the advance estimates,” Chidambaram said.
“The agriculture ministry has reported yesterday that maize and soyabean production would be all time high this year, that is not reflected in advance estimates,” he said.
“I am confident that final growth rate of agriculture would be better,” he said. The farm sector is projected to grow at a slower rate of 2.6 per cent against 3.8 per cent last year.
Analysts said a poor farm produce could pressure on food prices.
“The agriculture sector growth is surprising, especially as it came it in the backdrop of a good monsoon season and could put pressure on food prices,” said D.K. Joshi, Principal Economist of credit rating agency Crisil.
TK Bhaumik, chief economist of Reliance Industries Limited, said the unusually extended winters could result in a below-than-normal poor Rabi crop resulting in lower agriculture growth.