A good monsoon in 2016, which brought great relief to farmers suffering from the impact of poor rains over the last two years, has helped achieve record or near-record production of most Kharif crops in 2016-17. NCAER’s latest report on the short-term agricultural outlook for the 2017 Rabi season released today, points out that India is now heading towards replicating this achievement in the case of Rabi crops too. As per the NCAER 2017 Rabi Report, the Gross Value Added in agriculture and the allied sector registered a significant 3.3 per cent year-on-year growth in the Q2 of 2016-17 as compared to 1.8 per cent growth in Q1. Overall, a robust growth of 4.1 per cent was recorded in the agriculture sector in 2016-17 as against the previous year’s drought-impacted growth rate of 1.2 per cent. In comparison, the latest official estimates suggest 4.4 per cent growth for 2016-17 and 0.8 per cent for 2015-16.
These and other findings of ongoing research at the NCAER were discussed today at a national workshop on the Indian Agricultural Outlook: The 2017 Rabi Season and Doubling Farmers’ Income. The NCAER research has been supported by the National Food Security Mission, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, and Government of India.
Smt. Sudha P. Rao, Principal Adviser in the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare in the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, while releasing the NCAER Rabi Report today, noted that “There are many positive indications in the agricultural sector and agricultural production in the country today. The importance of agriculture in the Indian economy is underscored by the fact that 54.6% of India’s population is engaged in agriculture and contributes 17% to GDP. However, the sector faces many dilemmas, especially with regard to farmers’ welfare. Many initiatives have been announced in the Union Budget 2017-18 for farmers’ welfare and the objective of doubling farmers’ income by 2022. There is a focus on enhancing agricultural productivity, investment in warehousing and cold chains, crop insurance, and promotion of ancillary activities. We have achieved record production of rice, wheat and pulses this year helped by various programmes implemented by the government. Other issues that need to be addressed are optimization of irrigation practices, fertilizer yields and support systems for farmers like the launch of the Soil Health Card and the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana.”
The workshop offered the Indian policy and economic research community and experts in the agriculture sector an opportunity to discuss current and prospective agricultural policies and their implications for the economy. The extensive day-long discussions by the delegates at the conference also provided insights and delineated the way forward for improving India’s short-term agricultural prospects. In addition, the major findings emanating from the government’s initiatives for doubling farmers’ income by 2022 were also discussed at the conference.
The findings of the NCAER report are based on a comprehensive assessment of various factors including farm input prices and availability, monsoon rainfall, national and international market demand conditions and government policies impacting this year’s Rabi and Kharif crop production. The forecast for wheat production in the Rabi season is 96.0-98.7 million tonnes compared with the Government’s estimate of 96.6 million tonnes assuming normal weather conditions through harvest. The NCAER forecast for Rabi rice production is over 13 million tonnes compared with the Government’s estimate of 12.8 million tonnes.
While introducing NCAER’s short and medium-term agricultural scenarios, the principal author and team leader of the study, and NCAER’s Senior Research Counsellor, Dr Rajesh Chadha remarked, “The agriculture sector is projected to grow by 4.1% in 2016-17, which is more than double the drought-impacted growth rate of 1.2 % in 2015-16. After a record or near-record production of most Kharif crops in 2016-17, India is heading for a record or near-record production of Rabi crops. The government is working diligently for the betterment of farmers and farming through various innovative programmes with the aim of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.”