New Delhi, 15 Aug: India’s precarious agriculture sector, to prop up which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today announced a Rs 25,000 crore package, will find itself competing with the industry and housing sector for land in the days ahead, warns an eminent scientist.
The farm sector, whose share of GDP has fallen from more than 50% in 1947 to less than 20% now, is already living with negative growth in area under cultivation.
The land under foodgrains production registered negative growth of 0.44% between 1990 and 2004, while it was growing at 1.35% during 1949-1965.
“Agricultural land would be competing with other sectors such as industry and housing as every other segment would try to create space for itself,” Planning Commission Member V L Chopra told PTI.
At the time of independence, agriculture and allied sectors provided well over 70% of the country’s employment. About two-thirds of India’s over one billion people still derive a livelihood from agriculture today.
From 1891 to 1946, output of all crops grew at 0.4% a year, whereas the growth rate for food grains, like rice, wheat and pulses, was only 0.1%.
“Decline of agriculture in GDP is obvious and it will go down as other sectors are moving up and the farm sector is not progressing fast,” Chopra said on the occasion of the country’s 60th anniversary of independence.
Chopra, who has served the Indian Agriculture Research Institute and the Indian Council for Agriculture Research, suggested that there was a need to develop a strategic alternative to handle an inevitable situation.
Focus should be on production assets like water, health and nutrition of soil and increasing productivity of commodities of critical importance.