‘3% growth in agri sector will have multiplier effect’

Updated: Jan 26 2002, 05:30am hrs
A three per cent growth in agriculture could have a multiplier effect in attaining 2.6 per cent growth in the manufacturing sector and 1.7 per cent growth in the overall GDP of the country,” said Hindustan Lever Ltd executive director (foods) Gunender Kapur at a two-day conference on ‘Agricorp India 2002 - Competitiveness of India Agribusiness: Farm Gate to Food Plate,’ organised by the Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).

Mr Kapur further said that with 70 per cent of our population depending on agriculture for their livelihood, growth of this sector is critical for the overall growth of the Indian economy.

According to Tata Chemicals managing director Prasad Menon, “World trade in foodgrains is estimated at 233 million tonne per annum (tpa) in 2000-01, with wheat being the single largest contributor at 105 million tpa. India’s export share amounted to a meagre 2.7 million tpa or 1.2 per cent. We need to focus on productivity, international quality standards, efficiency in the supply chain in the whole agri sector and also look at issues like land-holding pattern, cultivation method, seeds, value addition etc.”

While highlighting certain issues in achieving competitiveness in Indian agriculture, Mr Kapur stressed on creating an enabling environment to improve agricultural productivity through reforms in food laws, legislative and fiscal reforms. These could include creating a common Indian market, enabling farm gate procurement by reforming the Market Committee Act and creating a futures market/ forward contract and reducing the multiplicity of laws and their application.

It is neccessary to create partnership webs to bring together all parties involved in this sector ie farmers, processors and the government to create effecient supply chains. This could be achieved through Farmers Service Centre as a nodal agency to provide all the required facilities such as credit, crop insurance, agri inputs, food procurers, equipment hire/purchase and specialised grain transport storage.

According to BCCI president Pradeep Mallick, “Fresh initiatives are required to improve the quality of Indian agriculture produce and increase the value addition to make the agriculture sector globally competitive and pitchforth this sector as an important driver for economic growth.”