Despite unfavorable South-West monsoon during the last three years FY2010-FY2012 (deficient by -6.5% on an average), an interesting trend has been witnessed recently, whereby, the growth of agriculture and allied activities has creped up from 3.3% during FY2007-FY2009 to 3.6% during FY2010-FY2012.
The food grain production scaled up from an average production of about 228mn tonnes during FY2007-FY2009 to about 240mn tonnes during FY2010-FY2012.
Further, the production of major commercial crops have also marginally picked up from an average of around 1640mn tonnes to 1683mn tonnes during the said period.
The strengthening of the farm sector is encouraging and indicative of the increasing focus of the government on food security during the recent years.
It is inspiring to note that the government has unveiled various policy reforms aimed to convert the existing agriculture in to a profitable venture formns of small holders, marginal farmers, landless and agriculture labours.
Further, reforms related to resource management, technology generation and attaining a healthy growth rate has been made said Mr. Sadip Somany, President, PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
The yield of food grain has risen from an average of around 1842kg/ hectare during FY2007-FY2009 to about 1904kg/hectare during FY2010-FY2012.
The agricultural trade surplus has also stepped up from an average of Rs.20929crores to Rs.24314crores during the same period.
To support the farmers, the MSP of paddy has been increased from an average of Rs760/quintal to Rs1010/quintal while for wheat it has been increased from average of Rs.943/quintal to Rs.1168/quintal during the same period.
However, an area of concern is the steep rise in food prices over the recent years which have impeded the overall economic growth, said Mr. Somany.
Food inflation has jumped up from an average of 8.5% during FY2007-FY2009 to about 12.5% during FY2010-FY2012. Hence the government should enhance its focus on easing the supply side pressures impacting the sector, to improve farm output delivery from farm gate to consumers.
Even though farm production has increased in recent years, however, around 40% of it goes waste between the farm gate and the market because of poor supply infrastructure.
The provision to allow foreign retailers to hold 51% stake in the multi-brand retail sector along with the enhanced cap on the single brand segment to 100% would help in reducing post-harvest losses and minimizing wastage in the farm sector. FDI in retail sector will address the supply side constraints and lower food inflation in the years to come.
Agriculture in India has been a way of life and continues to be the single most important source of livelihood for the masses with more than 70% of the population dependant on it directly or indirectly.
Agricultural production has a significant impact on the overall economic growth, a key to the creation of demand in other sectors and vital in maintaining price stability in the economy.