The Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), which released the growth figures on Friday, attributed to the fall in production of coarse cereals, pulses, oilseeds, sugarcane and cotton during the Kharif season of 2008-09 due to a slump in farm sector performance, even as rice output witnessed some growth.
Rice, coarse cereals and pulses during the Kharif season of 2008-09 recorded growth rates of 3.4%, -13.2% and -24.7%, respectively, over the corresponding season in the previous agriculture year, CSO said in a statement. Commenting on the dismal growth of the sector, Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen said: The final estimate (for 2007-08) has been revised sharply upwards (from the second estimate). If you compare the second production estimate of this year against last years second estimate, you are still talking about growth.
Agriculture secretary T Nanda Kumar said: We are sticking to the 2.6% growth rate projected by the CSO for the entire 2008-09 fiscal as of now. The current growth estimate for the sector has been based on the second-advanced projection of production released by the government earlier in February.
Though the sector contributed just about 18% to the overall economic growth of the country in the last fiscal, over 60% of the worlds second-most populous nation still depends on agriculture for its livelihood. Early in February, the CSO had said that agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors were likely to register a growth rate of 2.6% during 2008-09, compared with 4.9% in 2007-08.
Rajesh Shukla, senior fellow, National Council of Applied Economic Research, (NCAER), said, This is not much of a surprise. We had projected a 4.1% growth rate for agriculture for 2008-09, keeping in view the robust performance seen in the last three years. Now, it may be a little bit lower. But a clearer picture would emerge after the arrival of the Rabi crop, he added.
Among commercial crops, the CSO said that the output of oilseeds declined by 21.2 % during the Kharif season of 2008-09, while that of of cotton and sugarcane is estimated to fall by 14.4% and 16.6%, respectively.
However, horticulture crops, livestock products and fisheries are expected to grow at 6%, 5.5%and 6%, respectively.