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ANALYSIS

Agriculture, industry growth - 2.1% & 4.4%; reforms may prop up economy
Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
Agriculture, industry and services sectors are expected to grow at the rate of 2.1%, 4.4%, and 8.3% respectively in 2017-18. This was stated in the Economic Survey 2017-18 tabled in Parliament on Monday by Union minister for finance and corporate affairs Arun Jaitley.

According to the survey, a series of reforms undertaken over the past year will allow real GDP growth to reach 6.75% this fiscal and will rise to 7.0 to 7.5% in 2018-19, thereby reinstating India as the world’s fastest growing major economy.
 
The survey underlines that due to the launch of transformational Goods and Services Tax (GST) reform on July 1, 2017, resolution of the long-festering Twin Balance Sheet (TBS) problem by sending the major stressed companies for resolution under the new Indian Bankruptcy Code, implementing a major recapitalisation package to strengthen the public sector banks, further liberalisation of FDI and the export uplift from the global recovery, the economy began to accelerate in the second half of the year and can clock 6.75% growth this year. The survey points out that as per the quarterly estimates; there was a reversal of the declining trend of GDP growth in the second quarter of 2017-18, led by the industry sector.

The Gross Value Added (GVA) at constant basic prices is expected to grow at the rate of 6.1 per cent in 2017-18 as compared to 6.6 per cent in 2016-17. The survey adds that after remaining in negative territory for a couple of years, growth of exports rebounded into positive one during 2016-17 and expected to grow faster in 2017-18. However, due to higher expected increase in imports, net exports of goods and services are slated to decline in 2017-18.
 
The survey points out that India can be rated as among the best performing economies in the world as the average growth during last three years is around 4 percentage points higher than global growth and nearly 3 percentage points higher than that of Emerging Market and Developing Economies. It points out that the GDP growth has averaged 7.3 per cent for the period from 2014-15 to 2017-18, which is the highest among the major economies of the world. That this growth has been achieved in a milieu of lower inflation, improved current account balance and notable reduction in the fiscal deficit to GDP ratio makes it all the more creditable.


Agricultural R&D
The survey says that the actual expenditure of Department of Agricultural Research and Education/Indian Council of Agricultural Research has increased from Rs 5,393 crore in 2010-11 to Rs 6,800 (BE) crore during 2017-18. The compound annual growth rate of expenditure has been 4.2% over the years and in recent years’ expenditure has been on higher side. During the current year (2017-18), investment in agriculture research and education protected new agricultural innovation by filling 45 patent applications at Indian Patent Office (IPO) and the cumulative patent applications have now risen to 1,025. Some 10 copyright and 12 trademark applications were filed by ICAR for products and processes. After the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Right Authority notified new genera, applications for 135 varieties were filed at the Registry and 155 high-yielding varieties/hybrids of cereals were released for cultivation in different agro-ecologies of the country during 2016, adds the survey.

It says that total 209 new varieties/hybrids tolerant to various biotic and abiotic stresses with enhanced quality have been developed for cereals, pulses, oilseeds, commercial and forage crops.

Cereals: 117 high yielding varieties/hybrids of cereals comprising 65of rice, 14 of wheat, 24 of maize, 5 of finger millet, 3 of pearl millet, 1 each of sorghum, barley, foxtail millet, kodo millet, little millet and proso millet were released for cultivation in different agro-ecologies of the country during 2017.

Oilseeds: 28 high yielding oilseeds varieties comprising 8 of rapeseed-mustard, 5 of soybean, 4 each of groundnut and linseed, 3 of sunflower, 2 each of castor and niger were released for different agro-ecological regions.

Pulses: 32 high-yielding varieties of pulses comprising 10 of chickpea, 6 of lentil, 4 of cowpea, 3 of mungbean, 2 each of pigeonpea, horse gram and field pea, 1 each of urdbean, rajmash and faba bean were released for different agro-ecological region.

Commercial Crops: 24 high-yielding varieties for commercial crops including 13 of cotton, 8 of sugarcane and 3 of jute were released for different agro-ecological regions.

Forage Crops: 8 high yielding varieties/hybrids of forage crops comprising 3 f oats, 1 each of bajra, napier hybrid, forage sorghum, grain amaranthus, forage cowpea and marvel grass were released for cultivation in different agro-ecologies.


Agricultural Mechanisation Picks up Pace

Indian farmers are adapting to farm mechanisation at a faster rate in comparison to recent past. The survey says that sale of tractors to a great extent reflects the level of mechanisation. Indian tractor industries have emerged as the largest in the world and account for about one-third of total global tractor production.

According to the World Bank estimates, half of the Indian population would be urban by the year 2050. It is estimated that percentage of agricultural workers in total work force would drop to 25.7% by 2050 from 58.2% in 2001. Thus, there is a need to enhance the level of farm mechanisation in the country. Due to intensive involvement of labour in different farm operations, the cost of production of many crops is quite high. Human power availability in agriculture also increased from about 0.043KW/ ha in 1960-61 to about 0.077 KW/ ha in 2014-15. However, as compared to tractor growth, increase in human power in agriculture is quite slow.

Over the year, the shift has been towards the use of mechanical and electrical sources of power. In 1960-61, about 93% farm power was coming from animate sources, which has reduced to about 10% in 2014-15. But mechanical and electrical sources of power have increased from 7% to about 90% during the same period.

There is predominance of small operational holding in Indian agriculture. It is, therefore, needed to consolidate the land holdings to reap the benefits of agricultural mechanisation. There is a need to innovate custom service or a rental model by institutionalisation for high cost farm machinery such as combine harvester, sugarcane harvester, potato combine, paddy transplanter, laser guided land leveller, rotavator etc. to reduce the cost of operation and it can be adopted by private players or state or Central organisation in major production hubs.
 
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