Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday kick-started the formal pre-budget consultations for 2011-12 amid hope that farm sector would expand by a robust 6% driven by abundant rainfall.
“The minister expressed hope that in the current year with normal monsoons, we are looking at a significant rebound in agriculture and allied sector growth at about 6 %,” an official statement said.
A strong farm sector output is critical to bring down food prices that have reached a worrisome 18.32% and have spread into core inflation, or prices of goods other than food and fuel.
Adequate monsoons are crucial for the summer- sown kharif crop that accounts for more than half of the country’s annual food output. Last year, the farm sector grew by 0.2%, hit by the worst drought in four decades.
“There is much that needs to be done to accelerate the pace of growth in agricultural sector. Attaining double digit growth and sustaining it over extended period of time, it is vital that agriculture and allied sector grows at over 4 % per annum, the statement said.
About 15 representatives of different farmers’ associations and forums attended the meeting. Some of the strategies followed in the previous Budgets have started yielding results, Mukherjee said.
“Already, some good results have been observed in respect of production of pulses in the current year,” the statement quoting the minister said.
The Consortium of Indian Farmers Association has recommended the government to encourage farm mechanisation by removing taxes on farm equipment.