'Need for linking farmers directly to market'

The survey stated that capital investment were required not only for farm productivity but also to create adequate infrastructure for transport, storage and distribution of agricultural produce.

The stagnation is evident from the fact that whereas overall GDP has grown by an average of 8.62 per cent during 2004-05 to 2010-11, farm sector GDP went up by only 3.46 per cent in the same period, even though it accounts for about 58 per cent employment.

The agriculture sector growth in the first four years of the 11th plan is estimated at 2.87 per cent and to achieve the plan target of average four per cent growth every year, the farm sector needs to grow at 8.5 per cent during 2011-12, says the survey in a reality check.

Capital investment in agriculture as a percentage of the GDP has been stagnating in recent years. The real challenge is to enhance capital investment both by the private and public sector in a sustained way.

The survey flagged declining availability of food grains and absence of nutritional security as two major concerns for aam admi in the farm sector.

The pre-budget economic policy prescription suggested an increase in the level of secondary food processing and a gradual shift to other areas of farming like livestock, fisheries and poultry and horticulture as the means to revive one of crucial sectors of the economy.

The focus, so far, has been on cereals, mainly rice and wheat. But with the demand for processed food set to increase, more money needs to be pumped in food processing, cold chain, handling and packaging of processed foods.

The need for a thrust on horticulture products has been mentioned. Another long-term strategy would be to increase the production of meat, milk and poultry, which are also experiencing an upward pressure in their pricing.

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