Agriculture sector growth to be around 7%: NITI Aayog’s Ramesh Chand

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February 21, 2017 6:31 AM

While the Central Statistical Organisation has estimated “agriculture and allied services” to grow 4.1% in FY17, Niti Aayog member Ramesh Chand expects the growth rate to be a handsome 7%.

Under the new dispensation, we have been asked to prepare a vision for all sectors of the economy for next 15 years.

While the Central Statistical Organisation has estimated “agriculture and allied services” to grow 4.1% in FY17, Niti Aayog member Ramesh Chand expects the growth rate to be a handsome 7%. Chand spoke to FE’s Prasanta Sahu and Sandip Das on critical factors that need to be addressed to ensure at least 4% annual growth over the next 15 years.

How do you foresee the direction of the agricultural sector especially after the 12th Plan period got over?

Under the new dispensation, we have been asked to prepare a vision for all sectors of the economy for next 15 years. In keeping with this, we have set the targets for the agriculture sector, with focus on achieving prosperity for farmers. Our strategy is in tune with the plan to double farmers’ income by 2022. Critical factors include ensuring nutritional security, sustainable use of natural resources, etc. We have worked out the quantum of rice to be grown besides other issues.

For doubling the farm income by 2022, we have identified at least seven key points. These include increasing productivity through optimum use of fertiliser, increase in irrigation coverage, especially through expansion of drip irrigation, crop diversification and improving livestock quality, etc. We would give thrust to factors such as replacing flood irrigation with drip, rationalising crop intensity and promotion of scientific use of fertiliser. Our focus should be to increase self-sufficiency in production of pulses and reducing import dependence on oilseeds. Promotion of post-harvest value addition along with allied activities would boost farmers’ income.

What is your take on the expected farm sector growth in FY17?

Though the CSO has stated that the agricultural sector growth would be 4%, I anticipate it to be over 6%.
The second advance estimate for crop production released by the agriculture ministry has stated that the crop output, including foodgrain, cotton, oilseed, etc, in the 2016-17 crop year (July-June) would be 10% more than last year. The agriculture growth could even touch 7% this year.

What would be farm sector’s growth target in 15-year perspective planning?

We want to achieve 4% annual growth for next 15-years. Though Indian agriculture has a potential for over 4%, but putting too much focus on growth rate could put strain on natural resources. Demand side factors also don’t support. We should take firm action on seed, fertiliser, irrigation, providing soil health cards to farmers and crop insurance.

How is the eNational Agriculture Market (eNAM) evolving?

The eNational Agriculture Market (eNAM) initiative is game-changing. But, since it involves substantive thing, you have to physically do certain things. Since it involves software, hardware, etc, the progress under eNAM is difficult. There was initially some teething troubles. I feel that though in terms of numbers there is a progress, in terms of actual output, progress is low. Progress means auction happening through an electronic mode. I think, we have not been able to make progress on that front.

Much of the trade is happening in physical mode now. Take the case of Haryana where the procurement of paddy was done through eNAM last kharif season. But in such a transanction, there was no competition.

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