Ahead of the Union Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said the agriculture sector was the top priority for the government because the country’s economic growth is not “justifiable and equitable” unless the benefits are “clear and evident” in the farm sector.
Therefore, the government’s priority is to ensure the gains reach the farmers and the growth is visible even in the farm sector, he said at an event here.
According to latest data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the country’s economic growth is expected to slow to a four-year low of 6.5 per cent in FY18, the lowest under the Modi-led government, mainly due to poor performance of agriculture and manufacturing sectors. The CSO has pegged farm and allied sector growth to slow to 2.1 per cent in the current fiscal year from 4.9 per cent in the preceding year. “India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and the growth is benefitting people in different sectors. But maximum population is dependent on agri-sector and unless the gains are clear and evident, the (economic) growth is not justifiable and equitable,” Jaitley said.
Among the priority areas, the agriculture sector is on top, he said. “Ensuring the benefits reach the agri-sector and growth is visible — this is among the priority areas for us.” Jaitley further said: “We see in some places the problem of falling prices because of higher production. Farmers are not getting the price for their produce.” He said many steps have been taken in the past few years to take farmers out of this situation. “There has been some impact,” he said.
Lauding the contribution of farmers, he said they have left no stone unturned to serve the nation. They have worked hard to turn a food shortage country to a surplus one now. However, due to higher production, they are now faced with falling prices, he said. The minister also mentioned that the launch of options trading was one of the major steps taken to help farmers.
In the beginning, options trading might look like a small step but when its awareness increases in the coming days, it will benefit farmers, he said.