New Delhi| 29 Dec 2016
Presenting his ministry’s report card of last 30 months to media today, Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Shri Radha Mohan Singh said, “I am confident that the growth in agriculture sector in 2016-17 would be much better than last few years.” However, on being asked about the figure, the minister could not give the growth rate figure for 2016-17. But, in a survey released by RBI a fortnight ago, the forecast of growth rate for agriculture and allied activities’ for 2016-17 is 3.1% (- 0.4%) and for 2017-18 is 2.9% (-0.1%). However, Niti Aayog has projected the growth to be above 5% this fiscal year 2016-17 due to record Kharif production and record sowing in ongoing Rabi season. The agriculture sector growth was dismal 1.2% in 2015-16 due to drought. Minister released the list of work done in 30 areas in agriculture by the government in last 30 months.
Responding to the question on the reason for import of wheat despite the government’s figures of record production, the minister clarified, “Wheat production and procurement are two different things. In 2011-12, the production was 94.88 MT and in 2012-13, it was 93.51 MT. The procurement of wheat in 2011-12 was 29.15 MT and in 2012-13, it was 25.09 MT. So, the wheat production during this period fell by 1.44% and the procurement fell down by 34%.” But the minister ignored the question on reason for gap in production and procurement.
On the sharp drop in wholesale price of farm produce after the demonetization, the Minister said, “For the commodities that have no MSP (Minimum Support Price), we use Intervention Scheme (MIS) to address the price issue. As for onions and potatoes, as there is no MSP, so MIS is used. But the request for the same has to come from states. Centre responds within 24 hours. Many states have taken benefits of MIS in last one year.”
On being asked about the forthcoming budget, he said, “its focus will remain same – village, poor and farmer as in last year’s budget.”