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Farms boost to economic health

Government estimates the growth rate of agriculture, one of the key sectors driving the Indian economy, would be around 3.5 per cent for 2007-08, reports Chetan Chauhan.
Hindustan Times | By Chetan Chauhan, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 30, 2008 12:11 AM IST

The growth rate of agriculture, one of the key sectors driving the Indian economy, would be around 3.5 per cent for 2007-08, the government estimated on Thursday. The latest estimate, up from the earlier estimate of 2.6, is the highest since 2002, indicating a much-awaited revival of agriculture.

The higher agriculture growth may push the Gross Domestic Product growth rate — to be released on Friday — to 9 per cent from the initial estimate of 8.7 per cent, and give India economic growth of more than 9 per cent for the third straight year. The UPA government had maintained that for GDP growth to be over 9 per cent, agriculture production should grow at an annual rate of 4 per cent.

The high agriculture growth rate comes at the time when the UPA government is under fire from friends and foes for not been able to control the high inflation rate and is trying to tell people that India’s food security was not under threat because of global food crises.

The record agriculture growth has helped the government to stem any food crises with procurement of 210 lakh tonnes of wheat this year against the target of 150 lakh tonnes. Last year, the government was able to buy only 114 lakh tonnes from the domestic market, forcing it to import wheat at a high price.

Pranob Sen, secretary, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, said on Thursday that the revised estimates for agriculture would be around 3.5 per cent, about 0.9 per cent higher than the advance estimate of 2.6 per cent. “In the revised estimates, the agriculture growth rate could be higher by 0.7 to 0.8 per cent,” Sen said at the sidelines of a function. The function was to release the Fifth Economic Census report, which said economic development has benefited rural India more than urban India with growth of new enterprises.

The higher agriculture growth is on basis of record output of wheat, rice, coarse grains, pulses, oilseeds and cotton in 2007-08. Agriculture Ministry’s advance estimate released on April 22 said food grain production is estimated at 227.32 million tonnes in 2007-08, which is 10.04 million tonnes higher than the previous year.

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