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Agriculture Strategy for Eleventh Plan: Some Critical Issues

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Essay title: Agriculture Strategy for Eleventh Plan: Some Critical Issues

PLANNING COMMISSION

Agriculture Strategy for Eleventh Plan: Some critical issues

INTRODUCTION

1.1 The Approach Paper to the Eleventh Five Year Plan prepared by the Planning Commission, suggested a road map for 9% per annum growth for the economy as a whole, and an agricultural growth target of 4% per annum during the plan period. Agriculture is not only an important driver of macro-economic performance; it is an essential element of the strategy to make growth more inclusive. The Approach Paper emphasised that a reversal of the declaration in agricultural growth witnessed after 1996 is a pre-requisite for success of the 11th Plan. Although agricultural performance has improved after 2004-05, much more needs to be done.

1.2 The specific problems of Indian agriculture, and concerns relating to farmers’ welfare, have been addressed in the five Reports of the National Farmers Commission under chairmanship of Prof. M.S. Swaminathan*. These problems and concerns have subsequently been considered by other Committees, most prominently the NDC Sub-Committee on Agriculture and Related Issues which was chaired by the Agriculture Minister and had eight Working Groups**. The Planning Commission had also set up twelve 11th Plan Working Groups*** on agriculture. Based on all these inputs, the Steering Committee on Agriculture for the 11th Five Year Plan has in its conclusions and recommendations taken an overview on the broad direction of policies needed for agriculture in the 11th Plan.

1.3 This paper summarises in very broad outline the main conclusions and recommendations of the above Groups/Committees on the Eleventh Plan strategy to be adopted for the agriculture sector by the Central and State governments in order to achieve a faster and more inclusive growth.

SOME MAJOR CONCERNS

2.1 Deceleration in agriculture growth: In the last decade there has been a sharp deceleration in Indian agriculture with the growth rate of agriculture GDP slipping from 3.62% during 1984-85 to 1995-96 to less than 2% in the period from 1995-96 to 2004-05. Further, state-wise trends indicate that the largest slump occurred in those areas/states that are predominantly rainfed (Table 1).

Table 1: Growth rates of Agriculture SDP, states ranked by % of rainfed area

State

Growth rate in NSDP Agriculture Rainfed

% State

Growth rate in NSDP Agriculture Rainfed

%

1984/5 to 1995/6 1995/6 to 2004/5 1984/5 to 1995/6 1995/6 to 2004/5

Punjab 4.00 2.16 3 Gujarat 5.09 0.48 64

Haryana 4.60 1.98 17 Rajasthan 5.52 0.30 70

Uttar Pradesh 2.82 1.87 32 Orissa -1.18 0.11 73

Tamil Nadu 4.95 -1.36 49 Madhya Pradesh 3.63 -0.23 74

West Bengal 4.63 2.67 49 Karnataka 3.92 0.03 75

Bihar -1.71 3.51 52 Maharashtra 6.66 0.10 83

Andhra Pradesh 3.18 2.69 59 Kerala 3.60 -3.54 85

All India 3.62 1.85 60 Assam 1.65 0.95 86

2.2 A particular area of concern is foodgrains, whose production during 10th plan was less than during 9th plan. Per capita annual production of cereals has declined from 192 kg in 1991/1995 to only 174 kg in 2004/2007 and of pulses from 15 kg to 12 kg. This means that per capita foodgrains production is now at 1970s levels. Although offset to some extent by increase in per capita availability of other food products this raises valid concerns on food security. We must ensure growth in foodgrain production of at least 2 percent per annum in the 11th Plan. Horticulture is the key driver for higher value addition and where output must grow at about 6% per annum for overall agricultural growth to reach 4%. Data on fruits & vegetables production is weak, but available evidence suggests sharp deceleration in recent years. National Horticultural Board data shows growth slowing from 5.5% per annum during the 1990s to 2.5% during 2000-01 to 2005-06, while National Accounts place 2000-06 growth at only 1.2% per annum.

2.3 Technology Generation and Dissemination: With availability of land and water fixed, the goal of 4% growth in agriculture can be achieved only by increasing productivity per unit of these scarce natural resources through effective use of improved technology. The research system has so far focused

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