Centre sets 4 per cent growth target for agriculture

India has set an annual target of 4 per cent growth in agriculture during the 12th Five Year Plan to drive its $1.4 trillion economy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here on Monday.

“We must improve upon it (annual farm growth in 11th plan) in the 12th plan to reach 4 per cent growth or even higher,” Singh said at the golden jubilee convocation of the Indian Agriculture Research Institute here.

At the end of the 11th plan, the country’s food grain production exceeded 250 million tonnes and pulse production stood at 18 million tonnes crossing the previous barrier of 15 million tonnes. Production of vegetables went up by 9.57 per cent last year and nearly 2 million tonnes of cold storage capacity was created in 2011. Singh said agriculture growth was likely to be 3.5 per cent per annum in the last five years, which is better than the 10th plan growth figures of 2.5 per cent of farm growth.

“But we must improve upon it in the 12th plan to reach 4 per cent growth or even higher. This will call for very determined effort on the part of central and state governments ranging over areas like investment in irrigation, investment in watershed management, provision of credit and provision of marketing support,” he said.

Highlighting the faults of agriculture administration, Singh admitted there was a “substantial gap” between crop yield per hectare in ideal farming condition and what the actual yield is at the moment. “The gap represented the failure of the system,” he said. The , adding that failure of the extension system was a matter of concern for the government.

The agriculture extension system is meant for translating farm research to the fields. Singh said that the government wanted to increase investment in agriculture research from the existing level of one per cent of GDP to two per cent in the 12th plan. But injecting more resources in farm R&D may also come after the performance of Indian Council of Agriculture Research is reviewed against the recommendations of two expert panels in the last ten years.

“We need to review the implementation of the recommendations of these committees to see whether all the recommendations they made have been implemented in letter and spirit,” he added.

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