An agriculture-led revival as flawed claim -R Ramakumar
The crisis in agriculture demands that the government announce a strong fiscal stimulus for the rural economy
A rather confident statement heard in the midst of India’s COVID-19-induced economic slowdown is this: “Agriculture will lead India’s economic revival”. But how valid is this claim put forward by government spokespersons and some observers?
Four major arguments are offered. First, India’s food grain production in 2019-20 was 3.7% higher than in 2018-19. The procurement of rabi wheat in 2020-21 was 12.6% higher than in 2019-20. These indicate, it is argued, resilience in the agricultural sector. Second, food inflation in the Q1 of 2020-21, at 9.2%, was higher than in the previous year due to “sustained demand for food”. This shows a shift of terms of trade in favour of agriculture. Third, the area under kharif sowing in 2020-21 was 14% higher than in 2019-20. Higher kharif sowing was accompanied by higher tractor and fertilizer sales, which bodes well for economic recovery. Fourth, the government’s economic package for agriculture — as part of the 20-lakh crore Atmanirbhar Bharat package — will further position agriculture as the engine of revival.
Let us now consider each of the above claims.
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The Hindu, 11 September, 2020, https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/an-agriculture-led-revival-as-flawed-claim/article32575457.ece?homepage=true