Agriculture sole brilliant spot in COVID-induced lockdown, says Financial Survey


Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 29

India’s agricultural sector has proved its resilience amid adversities of COVID-induced lockdown with agriculture and allied activities clocking a growth of 3.4 per cent at constant prices during 2020-21, the government’s economic report card has said. 

In fact, according to the Economic Survey tabled by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament ahead of the Union Budget on February 1, “agriculture and allied activities were the sole bright spot amid the slide in GDP performance of other sectors, clocking a growth rate of 3.4 per cent at constant prices during 2020-21 (first advance estimates)”.

As the survey applauded the contribution of the sector to the emerging “green shoots of the Indian economy” it also added that recent agricultural reforms (against which farmers are agitating) are “a remedy and not a malady”

“The three agricultural reform legislation are designed and intended primarily for the benefit of small and marginal farmers which constitute around 85 per cent of the total number of farmers and are the biggest sufferer of the regressive APMC regulated market regime. The newly introduced farm laws herald a new era of market freedom which can go a long way in the improvement of farmer welfare in India,” it said 

According to the document, the share of agriculture and allied sectors in Gross Value Added (GVA) of the country at current prices is 17.8 per cent for the year 2019-20. 

Total food grain production in the country is estimated at a record 296.65 million tonnes, higher by 11.44 MT than 285.21 MT achieved during 2018-19.

Exports amounted to approximately Rs 252,000 crore with major destinations being USA, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nepal and Bangladesh, and major produce exported including marine products, basmati rice, buffalo meat, spices, non-basmati rice, cotton raw, oil meals, sugar, castor oil, and tea. But while India occupies a leading position in the global trade of the aforementioned agri-products, its total agri-export basket accounts for a little over 2.5 per cent of world agri-trade. The survey, while noting agri-related announcements under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, said “given the large proportion of resource-constrained small and marginal farmers in India, timely availability of adequate credit is fundamental for the success of farming activities.

Meanwhile, the survey also reported good news from allied sector. It said contribution of livestock in total agriculture and allied sector GVA increased from 24.32 per cent (2014-15) to 28.63 per cent (2018-19). Livestock sector contributed 4.19 per cent of total GVA in 2018-19.

Fish production reached an all-time high of 14.16 million metric tons during 2019-20. The GVA by the sector to the national economy stood at Rs 2,12,915 crore constituting 1.24 per cent of the total national GVA and 7.28 per cent of the agricultural GVA.

The Food Processing Industries (FPI) sector has been growing at an Average Annual Growth Rate (AAGR) of around 9.99 per cent as compared to around 3.12 per cent in Agriculture and 8.25 per cent in manufacturing at 2011-12 prices.

 



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