For a government pitching for food for all and farm growth, the Economic Survey 2008-09 broke some bad news and suggested key reforms like allowing future trading on commodities.
Farm growth has nose-dived to a dismal 1.6 per cent in 2008-09 from 4.9 per cent in the previous year. Food production has fallen too, though 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 shows a 2.1 per cent contraction overall.
The survey blamed this on progressive change in climate leading to lower rainfall and lower yields per unit.
The patchy monsoon will make matters worse. The rain for the week ending July 1 was 29 per cent deficient, the Met department said on Thursday.
“This shortfall is surely due to unfavourable climate. Climate-compliant crop is the need of the hour. Thankfully we have a surplus in our granaries,” said Devender Kumar, co-facilitator of the Rice-Wheat Consortium.
The “general plateauing” of yield could dent the United Prpgressive Alliance 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.