"There is a marked improvement in the gross capital formation also in agriculture sector."
This has been observed by the Economic Survey presented in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Underlining the importance of the agricultural sector in the Indian Economy, the Survey says that the agriculture sector needs to grow at 8.5 per cent during 2011-12 to achieve the Plan target of average 4 per cent growth per year.
The Survey points out that the increased Minimum Support Price along with various other steps taken by the Government have resulted in higher levels of food-grains.
While the economic cost of wheat and rice has continuously gone up, the issue price has been kept unchanged since 1st July, 2002.
The country has made great strides towards increasing food grains production. In spite of that the agriculture sector is at a cross roads with rising demand for food items and relatively slower supply response in many commodities resulting frequent spikes in food inflation.
The Survey says that increasing agriculture production and productivity is a necessary condition not only for ensuring national food security but also for sustaining the high levels of growth.
Concerted and focused efforts are required for addressing the challenge of stagnating productivity levels in agriculture.
It suggests a holistic approach, including
renewed agricultural research, dissemination of technology, better inputs such as quality seeds, fertilizers and modern irrigation facilities.
Specially rice and wheat, the Survey says that given the constraints in area expansion there is a need for further research to boost production and productivity.
Similarly, a technological breakthrough in pulse production is necessary to keep pace with rising demand. Significant increase in the area under sugarcane and cotton suggests some shift in the cropping pattern in Kharif 2010, the Survey observes.
Expressing concern over stagnation of capital investment in the sector, it says both private and public sector should enhance the investment in agriculture sector in a sustained way.
A targeted development of rainfed area should be prioritized and effective marketing links should be ensured for better returns to the farmers.
The government should also encourage in food processing, cold chain and handling and packaging of processed food, the Survey says.
Taking a note of declining per capita availability of foodgrains, the Survey suggests thrust on horticulture products.
In view of increasing pressure on livestock products due to rising level of income, a long term strategy should be evolved to increase the production of these items.
It also says that the issue of efficient food stocks management of and uploading of stocks in time needs urgent attention.