Gross value added (GVA) in agriculture and allied activities is projected to fall to 2.1 per cent in FY18 because of an expected drop in the rabi harvest, an almost three per cent fall in kharif production, and on account of a big base, according to the first advance estimates of gross domestic product (GDP) for 2017-18 released on Friday.
More than GVA at constant prices, GVA for agriculture and allied activities at current prices slumped from nine per cent in 2016-17 to 2.8 per cent in 2017-18, which means farm product prices grew a mere 0.7 per cent in 2017-18 as against a rise of 4.1 per cent in 2016-17.
A massive drop in agricultural prices, with most of them ruling below minimum support prices (MSPs), has been one of major crises the current government faces.
Despite best efforts, prices have stubbornly remained lower than the MSP, a factor which many blamed for the BJP’s poor performance in the elections in parts of Gujarat.
According to the government’s estimates, foodgrain production in the kharif season is projected to fall to 134.67 million tonnes as against 138.32 million tonnes in the previous season, due to fall in pulses output, while oilseeds production is also expected to drop.
More than kharif, the GVA estimates show that rabi production could also suffer due to a drop of almost 600,000 hectares in wheat acreage because of a shift in area towards gram in Madhya Pradesh.
Madan Sabnavis, chief economist at CARE ratings, said that a lower agri forecast was not good news for the rabi crop, in which the area under cultivation has been lower so far, with wheat being under pressure.
TCA Anant, chief statistician, however, laid the blame for lower agriculture growth on a certain amount of statistical base reversion.