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'Govt must accord top priority to agriculture in budget'

Monday, December 11, 2017

The government needs to accord top priority to agriculture in the budget as a major shortfall in kharif production resulted in sluggish growth of farm sector in the second quarter this fiscal, Assocham said yesterday.

While the year-to-year agriculture GVA (Gross Value Addition) growth for the July-September quarter of 2017-18 dropped to 1.7% from 4.1%, measured on basic prices, the fall looks quite sharp at current prices from 10% to 3.7%. It is attributed to a decline in food grains production by 2.8% in second quarter of the current fiscal from a handsome growth of 10.7% in the similar period of 2016-17. The chamber observed that the shortfall in the second leg of the monsoon seems to have impacted the Kharif production.

"Besides, distress in prices of several agri-commodities would have also played a role in lower realisations as seen in the growth deceleration on the current prices," it said.

The chamber Secretary General D S Rawat said since more than half of the GVA in the farm sector is contributed by livestock, fishery and forestry, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley should particularly focus on these segments of the economy along with a major thrust on agriculture infrastructure like irrigation.

"With bulk of our population employed in the rural landscape, India’s consumption led growth and investment cannot be realised unless the entire farm sector is pulled out of stress.

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