New Delhi: Agriculture growth slowed down to 2.4% in the April-June quarter this year from 3% in the same quarter last year.
“The first quarter (agriculture growth) doesn’t mean much. Basically it is based on (the output of) the rabi (which concluded in June). But the farm GDP growth may be revised upwards for the last fiscal from 1.6% to about 2%,” Planning Commission Member Abhijit Sen told PTI.
Agriculture contributes 18% to the GDP and though the sector recorded 3% growth in the first quarter last year, the overall growth for the year was a modest 1.6%.
First quarter performance, which is based on the output of winter-sown crops, saw cotton production slump by 10.5% and sugarcane by 22.1% , according to the data compiled by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO).
However, rice output increased by 3.8%, wheat by 2.6%, coarse cereals 25.6%, oilseeds 13.6% and pulses 18.2%, the data showed.
Asked if drought in about half the country will affect agriculture growth, Sen said, “Of course, it will. And the impact will be reflected in Q2 and Q3.”
Sen also sees some pressure on the prices of sugar, pulses and coarse cereals though the effect may not be much on foodgrains.
HDFC Bank Chief Economist Abheek Barua said, “Agriculture might post negative growth in Q2 and Q3.” But he refrained from predicting the expansion rate for the fourth quarter of this fiscal, which will take into account the output during the rabi season.
Farm growth during the second and third quarters of this fiscal is likely to decline due to drought in 252 districts, which is threatening to hit summer-sown crops.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee last week cautioned that production may decline by 15-20% in Kharif. Earlier, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had said the output of rice may decline by about 10 million tonnes this Kharif from last years 84.58 million tonnes.
Releasing the fourth advance estimates for 2008-09, the Agriculture Ministry has pegged wheat production in India, the second-largest producer in the world, at 80.58 million tonnes in 2008-09 against 78.57 million tonnes the previous year.
The production of major coarse cereals has been projected lower by the Centre at 39.48 million tonnes this year against 40.76 million tonnes in 2007-08. Pulses output is expected to fall to 14.66 million tonnes from 14.76 million tonnes. Oilseeds production is projected to dip to 28.15 million tonnes from 29.76 million tonnes last year.
Similarly, sugarcane production is projected to go down significantly to 271.2 million tonnes from 348.19 million tonnes in the review period.