'Growth in agriculture sector vital for poverty alleviation': Pranab Mukherjee
President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said the growth in the agriculture sector is important for alleviation of poverty, promotion of inclusive growth, sustenance of food security and generation of employment opportunities.
"The average growth rate in agriculture and allied sectors during the Eleventh Plan period was 3.3 percent, with 2.8 percent growth in 2011-12, which is the terminal year of the Plan. To accelerate the overall economic growth rate from the current levels, much higher growth in the agriculture sector will be required, of say, 4 percent annually, as envisaged for the Twelfth Plan period," said President Mukherjee in his speech at the Northern India Chief Minister's Conclave - "Refueling Growth".
The President pointed out that improvement in agricultural productivity would be important to accelerate growth in this sector.
"Measures to improve productivity such as diversification of high yielding crops, improvement in seed replacement rate, use of high yielding hybrid seeds, improvement in water management practices and promotion of balanced use of fertilizers and pesticides should be some of our areas of focus. We should also increase the technological base of our agricultural sector," he added.
President Mukherjee said that as the country's Finance Minister he had outlined a four-pronged strategy as part of the Union Budget for 2010-11 to push growth in the agriculture sector.
" The four components of the strategy comprised of extending the green revolution to the Eastern region of the country, reducing the significant wastage in storage as well as in the operations of the existing food supply chains, improving credit availability to the farmers and give impetus to the food processing industry by providing state-of-the-art infrastructure. These strategies have led to positive outcomes in the sector and should help usher in a Second Green Revolution," said President Mukherjee.
"The Service sector is the dominant sector of our economy, contributing close to 60 per cent of our GDP. Hence, any strategy for enhancing economic growth should focus on facilitating the growth of important services such as finance and banking, information technology and telecommunications," he added.
Asserting that a well-developed financial system is an indicator of a mature economy, President Mukherjee said: "Our policies have enhanced the level of competition amongst different financial players, and in the process, has benefitted the common man. The financial sector in our country is one of the well-regulated sectors. The fact that the recent global financial crises has not affected us as it has some of the stronger economies, is a testimony to the maturity of our regulation."
"Yet, nevertheless to realize the full potential of this sector and achieve an accelerated growth and inclusion, further reforms are required in banking, pension and insurance," he added.
The President said India's economy is the sum total of its states' economies, and added that the states with large economies are crucial for growth of the national economy.
"Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, the top five States in terms of economic size, contribute close to half the country's GDP. Though only one State in this list is from the Northern region of the country, the share of the Northern States in the country's GDP is around 21.4 percent," said President Mukherjee.
"Growth in the Northern States of the country is, therefore, significant for the nation's growth and therefore, it is a challenge that the Chief Ministers gathered here, should accept," he added.
Expressing his delight over the fact that amongst the states with larger economies, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Chhattisgarh, have registered growth of above 10 percent in 2011-12, President Mukherjee said: "This is no mean achievement considering the slowdown in the global and national economy. I am hopeful that these states will continue to grow at this pace, if not faster, and other states in the country will follow suit."
"It is indeed important for this conclave to have brought many state leaders on a common platform to deliberate about the contribution that states can make to further India's journey of progress," he added.