For a government pitching for farm growth and food for all, the Economic Survey 2008-09 brought some bad news.
Farm growth has dived to a dismal 1.6 per cent in 2008-09 from 4.9 per cent the year before. Food production has fallen too, albeit marginally. Rabi or winter rice output was down by 0.9 per cent and wheat tanked by 1.2 per cent during 2008-09. Together, this totals a 2.1 per cent contraction.
The survey also suggested key reforms like allowing future trading on commodities. It blamed this on progressive change in climate leading to lower rainfall and lower yields per unit.
The patchy monsoon will make matters worse. The rains for the week ending July 1 were 29 per cent deficient, the Met department said on Thursday.
“This shortfall is surely due to unfavourable climate. Climate-complaint crop is the need of the hour. Thankfully we have a surplus in granaries,” said Devender Kumar, co-facilitator of the Rice-Wheat Consortium.
The “general plateauing” of yield could dent the UPA government’s plan for assured cheaper food for the country’s estimated 260 million poor, Kumar said.
Increase in “terminal heat” or temperature needed for maturing of wheat crop over the years has led to lower yields.
Major crops such as wheat, pulses and oil seeds showed a decline in output. Farm areas with deficit rainfall have increased by 40 per cent in 2006 from 28 per cent in 2005 and delayed irrigation projects have made matters worse.