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Slow sector pulling down economy

From an overall rate of 3.8 per cent per annum in 2006-07, growth in the agricultural sector is estimated to decline to 2.6 per cent, the survey says.

delhi Updated: Feb 29, 2008 01:19 IST
Jatin Gandhi

The agrarian crisis has begun to cast a shadow on India’s booming economy. The marginal slowdown has been caused by a decline in agriculture growth rate and a second green revolution is required, the government said in the Economic Survey 2007-08 tabled in Parliament on Thursday.

From an overall rate of 3.8 per cent per annum in 2006-07, growth in the agricultural sector is estimated to decline to 2.6 per cent, the survey says. “Any deceleration in the growth of this sector translates into a lower overall GDP growth,” it adds.

Atul Anjan, CPI leader and member of the National Commission on Farmers, says the decline is a result of the government’s inefficient policy making. “Juggling figures will not help. How can you talk of another green revolution when no new infrastructure has been added?”

The overall production of food grains in 2007-08 is also expected to fall short of the target raising serious concerns about food security — total output is estimated at 219.3 million tonnes in 2007-08, less than the target of 221.5 million tonnes. The survey emphasises the need for a second green revolution “particularly in rain-fed areas.”

“Besides weather induced fluctuations, the output of the agriculture sector has been affected due to reduced capital investment and plateauing of yield levels in major crops,” it says, adding that irrigation remains a major constraint in raising crop productivity.

Experts are concerned that the land under agriculture has remained constant for nearly 30 years. The survey adds that only about 74 per cent of the assessed irrigation potential of 140 million hectare was utilised up to March 2007. It says irrigation potential can be increased through inter-basin transfers, groundwater recharge and storing water along riverbanks.