The country’s agriculture sector is expected to grow higher than projected 2.1 per cent growth by the CSO for the current fiscal, following better rabi crop prospects, the agriculture ministry said today. Last week, Central Statistics Office (CSO) had pegged farm and allied sector growth at 2.1 per cent for 2017-18, much lower than 4.9 per cent achieved in the 2016-17. The farm sector growth comprises GVA (gross value added) of crops at 60 per cent, livestock 20 per cent and forestry 8.5 per cent and fishing and aquaculture at 5.5 per cent. “The ministry is optimistic about achieving a high growth rate because the Rabi, 2017 is showing a very good performance in addition to good Kharif, 2017,” the ministry said in an official statement. The agriculture sector can, therefore, be expected to register a much higher GVA for the year 2017-18, when final estimate figures are released, it added Justifying the reasons for possible higher growth, the ministry said it is of the opinion that the lower coverage of area by August, 2017 on account of delayed onset of monsoons has caused a poor reflection compared to the actual positive field situation by December, 2017.
However, good rainfall thereafter helped increase in area coverage in accordance with the with kharif targets. “Despite delay in onset of monsoons and relatively poorer rainfall vis-a-vis the previous year, the area coverage under kharif finally rose to 106.55 million hectare against the five year average of 105.86 million hectare,” it said. It is, hence logical, that the computation based on area coverage under crops as in August 2017 had a negative impact on the CSO’s advance estimate for the overall agriculture sector. The GVA estimate is bound to get corrected upwards, if increased area coverage by December 2017 and concomitant production estimate in case of foodgrains, oilseeds and commercial crops, in particular, are taken into account, it said.
These three account for higher percentage of share than horticulture in the GVA computation and horticulture is showing a higher productivity estimate, it added. The ministry further said the livestock and fishery sector was very positive till August 2017 and by December the dominant crop sector has “bounced back”. “If this amended and actual field situation are taken into account in computation of the GVA for agriculture sector as a whole, its growth rate can be estimated to be much higher than the advance estimate of 2.1 per cent,” ministry said.
Stating that the rabi prospects are good, the ministry said rabi crops have been covered in an area of 58.6 million hectares which is a “very good progress”. Considering that the rabi sowing continues up to first week of February, the total area under crops and resultant production will be very good, it added. The ministry also observed that CSO estimates of farm sector growth this fiscal comes on the back of a very robust GVA of 4.9 per cent in the previous year.
“Considering that crop segment constitutes a dominant component of the GVA computation, its performance is very critical. However, with in elasticity of land where there exists little scope for increase in the average coverage, productivity enhancement assumes importance,” it said. Crops in particular and agriculture in general are highly dependent on monsoons and overall status of weather, the ministry said, adding that even small variations in weather tend to influence agriculture adversely, as seen for example, in the area coverage by August 2017.