New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Thursday the country needs to sharply increase public spending on agriculture, particularly on irrigation and technology, to raise farm output.
Growth in India’s farm sector, which depends heavily on erratic monsoon rains, has lagged the rapid growth in the industrial and services sectors, which have gained from two decades of liberal reforms.
India’s Eleventh Five Year Plan, which began in 2007, aims to double annual agricultural growth to 4%, and the target was the government’s top priority, the prime minister said.
“To achieve this we are sharply increasing public investment in agriculture. The most important area of investment in agriculture relates to water and its efficient use,” he said.
Singh said investment in agricultural technology should increase.
“We need to increase investments in agricultural technologies, particularly those related to improved crop practices,” he told a conference on irrigation.
This year, the worst monsoon in 37 years ravaged India’s rice and cane crop, making the world’s second-most populous country a big importer of sugar and helping New York raw sugar futures surge to the highest in nearly three decades.
India is also considering rice imports to ensure the country has adequate grain stocks.