Punjab may be the country’s food bowl but its agricultural growth rate is hovering around zero for the past two years.
The figure for the financial year 2013-14 is 0.21%, while it was in minus (-0.05%) the previous year. It took just two years to dive to this level from 4% after the seven-year rule of the Akali-BJP alliance started.
The Punjab Economic Survey report 2013-14 tabled in the assembly along with the budget proposals on Wednesday shows the share of agriculture in the overall gross state domestic product (GSDP) to have fallen to 21.65% (2012-13) from 32.65% (2004-05), overtaken by the service and industry sectors in the past eight years.
The contribution of the service sector crossed 49% in the year 2012-13 from 43% in 200405, while the industry share grew from 25% to 29% in the same period. The gutsy farmers, however, have kept bringing more wheat and paddy to the market. The paddy arrivals crossed 133-lakh metric tonnes (MT) last year, a 3-lakh-MT increase from the previous year, while the wheat arrivals climbed to 140-lakh MT this year from 128-lakh MT last year.
“The growth in the agriculture sector has slowed down because the cropping intensity and irrigation potential have been exploited fully and the growth in productivity also has reached a saturation point,” states the survey report.
The report adds: “Besides, farmers are not ready to take the risk because of the assured returns of wheat and paddy and few advances in research and development.”
In its annual plan for the 201415 fiscal, the state has increased the outlay for agriculture to Rs. 1,029 crore from previoius year’s Rs. 708 crore, of which Rs. 645 crore remains the actual expenditure.
INDUSTRY ON THE RISE?
Notwithstanding the Punjab government’s cribbing over the “decline in the industrial sector because of tax breaks to the neighbouring Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir”, Rs. 55,000 crore is the investment in the large- and mediumscale industry in the state, boosted from Rs. 40,000 crore (2010-11). The export performance has improved in the last few years. Industrial goods exported in the year 2010-11 were worth Rs. 17,430 crore, a figure that climbed to Rs. 21,302 crore in the year 2011-12. However, only 1.5% of the central-sector investment is in Punjab. The state signed deals for Rs. 65,000-crore as total investment in various sub-sectors of industry but whether or not the money ever came, the report does not say. “The manufacturing growth remained sluggish in the year 2012-13.
The fiscal incentives announced in the wake of the investors’ summit where deals were signed hold a promise of boosting industrial investment,” the report states.