UPSC IAS Interview 2017-18

Agriculture Sector: Highlights 2013-14

Agriculture Sector: Highlights (Source: Economic Survey 2013-14)
·  Record food grains production of 264.4 mt in the year 2013-14
·  Record production of oilseeds of 32.4 mt in the year 2013-14
·  Record production of pulses of 19.6 mt in the year 2013-14
·  Groundnut shows the largest increase in productivity i.e., 73.17% in the year 2013-14.
·  India ranks first in the world in productivity of grapes, banana, cassava, peas, and papaya.
·  Agriculture sector growth rate 4.7% in the year 2013-14
·  Area under foodgrains increased by 4.47% to 126.2 million ha in the year 2013-14
·  Area under oilseeds increased by 6.42% to 28.2 million ha in the year 2013-14.
·  Stocks of foodgrains in the Central Pool stood  at 69.84 million tonnes as on June 1, 2014
·   Net availability of foodgrains increased by 15% to 229.1 million tonnes in 2013
·   Per capita net availability of foodgrains increased to 186.4 kg per year in 2013
·   Agriculture exports grow by 5.1% in the year 2013-14
·  Exports of marine products show a growth rate of 45% in the year 2013-14
·  Milk production touches a record high of 132.43 mt in the year 2012-13
·  Contribution of livestock sector to total GDP was 4.1% in the year 2012-13
·  Year-on-year growth rate of milk production in India is 4.04% vis-a-vis world average of 2.2%
·  Credit to agriculture sector exceeds target of Rs. 7,00,000 crore in the year 2013-14
·  Share of agriculture and allied sectors in GDP declines to 13.9% in 2013-14
·  Number of cultivators decline from 127.3 million in 2001 to 118.7 million in 2011

Agriculture sector: Challenges & Reforms Required
The Economic Survey 2013-14 released in New Delhi has highlighted several challenges and reforms required in the agriculture sector. The Economic Survey states that as a concomitant of growth, the share of agriculture and allied sector in gross domestic product (GDP) declined to 15.2% during the Eleventh Plan and further to 13.9% in 2013-14 (provisional estimates—PE). While it still accounts for about 54.6% of total employment (Census 2011), there has been a decline in the absolute number of cultivators, which is unprecedented, from 127.3 million (Census 2001) to 118.7 million (Census 2011). 

According to the Economic Survey, growth rates of productivity in agriculture sector are far below global standards; productivity levels of rice and wheat have declined after the green revolution of the 1980s. Another issue is soil degradation due to declining fertilizer-use efficiency. 

Also, the food subsidy has increased substantially in the past few years. Food subsidy was Rs. 92,000 crore in 2013-14. 

With 60 per cent of the total foodgrains and oilseeds produced being grown in the kharif season, and with just about 35 per cent of arable area being irrigated, Indian agriculture is still dependent on rainfall. The second long-range forcast for the current year by the IMD for monsoon season indicates that the monsoon rainfall is likely to be 93 per cent of the LPA (model error ± 4 per cent), with 71 per cent probability of subnormal/deficit rainfall and 70 per cent occurrence of EL Nino. The government has put in place contingency measures in about 500 districts. 

Currently, India is in an anomalous situation of being largely self-sufficient with large stocks of foodgrains on the one hand and registering high food inflation. 

On domestic and international marketing, the plethora of government interventions that were used to build a marketing set up have actually served as barriers to trade. Removing market distortions will create greater competition in markets, promote efficiency and growth and facilitate the creation of a national agricultural market. 

For establishing a national common market, the Economic Survey has recommended the following reforms: 

I. Examine the APMC Act, EC Act, Land Tenancy Act, and any such legally created structures whose provisions are restrictive and create barriers to free trade. 

II. Rigorously pursue alternate marketing initiatives, like direct marketing and contract farming. 

III. Examine inclusion of agriculture related taxes under the General Goods and Services Tax (GST) 

IV. Establish stable trade policy based on tariff interventions instead of non-tariff trade barriers. 

V. Develop and initiate competition in the agro-processing sector. Incentivize the private sector to scale up investments. 

VI. In this scenario of bumper production and stocks, a paradigm shift in the role of the government in all aspects of foodgrain production and distribution is necessary. 

Record Production of Foodgrains & Oilseeds in 2013-14
Groundnut Records Highest Rate of Increase in Productivity
The agriculture sector will see a record production of foodgrains and oilseeds in the year 2013-14, according to the Economic Survey for 2013-14, released in New Delhi today. As per the third Advance Estimates, the production of foodgrains is likely to touch a record output of 264.4 million tones (mt) in 2013-14 showing an increase of 2.88% over the previous year. Similarly, oilseeds are likely to have a record output of 32.4 mt showing an increase of 4.85% over the previous year. The production of rice is expected to be 106.3 mt and of wheat 95.8 mt. Cotton will touch a production of 36.5 mt in 2013-14. Overall, the agricultural sector is expected to grow at the rate of 4.7% in the year 2013-14. The agriculture sector grew at a rate of 4.1% during the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-08 to 2011-12). 

The integrated scheme of oilseeds, pulses, oil palm and maize (ISOPOM) has resulted in record production of 19.6 mt of pulses (i.e., 7.10% increase over previous year), oilseeds production at a record of 32.4 mt (4.85% increase over previous year) and maize gave a record production of 24.2 mt (increase of 8.52% over previous year). The Technology Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (TMO&OP) has been introduced in the Twelfth Plan to realize substantial increase in domestic production of edible oilseeds/oil, which is 50% short of the domestic demand. The emphasis of TMO&OP will be on ‘focused’ and ‘integrated’ interventions.

In 2013-14, the higher production in case of most of the major crops has been achieved by expanding area rather than yield/productivity. However, Groundnut with productivity of 1723 kg/ha has shown the largest jump in yield i.e., 73.17% over the previous year. Tur productivity at 857 kg/ha increased by 10.44% while yield of cotton (529 kg/ha) also showed an increase of 8.85%. Gram productivity (974 kg/ha) showed the largest productivity decline i.e., 5.98% in 2013-14. 

The net availability of foodgrains increased to 229.1 million tones i.e., an increase of 15% over last year and that of edible oils increased to 12.7 kg per year in 2013. The per capita net availability of foodgrains also rose to 186.4 kg per year in 2013 from 162.1 kg per year in 2009. 

Expansion in area and increases in the Minimum Support Prices of select agricultural crops, have resulted in higher foodgrains production. As per the 3rd AE, the acreage under foodgrains increased to 126.2 million ha and to 28.2 million ha under oilseeds. 

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