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‘Farm sector to beat PM advisory panel forecast’

‘Farm sector to beat PM advisory panel forecast’
The country’s farm sector may not perform as well in 2012-13 as last year, but the growth would be much better than the projections made by the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC), agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has said.

The agri-sector showed a growth of 2.8 per cent in 2011-12. ‘The agriculture sector may not grow to that of last year’s level, but we will be somewhat closer to last year’s level,’ Pawar said.

The PMEAC in its August report had projected a sharp drop in agriculture growth to 0.5 per cent for the current fiscal against the backdrop of poor monsoon.

Pawar was asked whether the performance of the agriculture sector would be as bad as the estimates made by the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, which is headed by former RBI governor C Rangarajan.

The year 2011-12 was an exceptional year for the farm sector with food grains production touching a 60-year high of 257.44 million tonnes (mt), he pointed out.

Pawar also observed that despite poor monsoon and drought in the four states of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat, ‘Total food grains production is expected to be better than the last five year’s average output. There will be storage problems, that I can tell you,’ cautioned the the agriculture minister.

Monsoon-sown crops in the just completed kharif season (June-September) were affected due to poor rainfall.

As a result, the agriculture ministry projected a decline of 10 per cent to 117.18 million tonnes in foodgrains output in kharif season in its first official estimate.

Hoping that farm production in the ongoing rabi (winter) season would be better, Pawar said, ‘Wheat sowing has just begun this month. Moisture content in soil is quite good and that’s why we expect more area under wheat in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.’
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