New Delhi: Amid the coronavirus lockdown across the country that brought economic activity to a near halt, the Modi government is expecting that agriculture sector could be a silver lining for the Indian economy as it is estimated to grow at a rate of 3 per cent for the year 2020-21, according to NITI Aayog.
NITI Aayog member Ramesh Chand said at a press conference Wednesday that currently the growth of the agriculture sector is 60 per cent more than the non-agriculture sectors, which is very rare.
NITI Aayog attributed the estimated growth in the agricultural sector to normal monsoon this year along with India’s water availability in reservoirs, which is 40-60 per cent higher than last year, said Chand.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who was also present at the press conference, said: “The growth rate in real terms for the agriculture sector in 2019-20 was 3.7 per cent which can be deduced at 11.3 per cent in current prices.”
According to the Economic Survey 2019-20, the annual growth rate in real terms in agriculture and its allied sectors was 2.88 per cent from 2014-15 to 2018-19 whereas the estimated growth rate in 2019-20 was 2.9 per cent.
Economic activity across India has almost come to a standstill after the countrywide lockdown came into effect on 25 March to prevent the spread of the highly infectious Covid-19 disease.
Although the activity of manufacturing and services sectors has been put to a halt by the lockdown, the agriculture and allied sector activities have been allowed partially by the government.
Agriculture to add over 0.52% to economy’s growth
Chand said almost 60 per cent of the economy is still not functioning as of now.
“Share of agriculture sector in Indian economy is 17 per cent, which is higher than the manufacturing sector, and agriculture alone will give more than 0.52 per cent to the growth rate of Indian economy as markets are intact and prices have not crashed,” he added.
Chand also said sale of fertilizer in April this year is higher than the same period last year — with an increase to 13.5 lakh tonnes from 12.86 lakh tonnes in 2019.
Measures for farmers
Mentioning about the steps taken by the government to help farmers during the lockdown, minister Tomar listed the exemptions announced for the agriculture sector and highlighted government platforms such as e-NAM, Kisan Rath app and the All India Agri Transport Call Centre launched for their benefit.
e-Nam is an online trading platform for agricultural commodities, while Kisan Rath app facilitates transportation of agri-produce across the country. The All India Agri Transport Call Centre was launched to facilitate inter-state movement of perishables during the lockdown.
“The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme has benefited farmers as Rs 17,986 crore has been disbursed since 24 March,” the minister added.
Tomar, meanwhile, said there was no shortage of food grains, milk or vegetables during the lockdown.
India has set a food grain production target of 298.3 million tonnes for 2020-21 fiscal year against 291.95 million tonnes in 2019-20 and 285.20 million tonnes in 2018-19.