Maharashtra farm sector to grow 12.5% in FY17, says economic survey

By Rob 0

Mumbai: Maharashtra’s agriculture and allied sector is expected to register a growth of 12.5% this fiscal as against -4.6% in 2015-16, according to the state’s economic survey for 2016-17 tabled in the state legislature on Friday.

The real gross value of crops in the state may register a growth rate of 19.3% following a satisfactory monsoon in 2016, after two consecutive seasons of drought, the economic survey said.

The state’s economy is expected to grow at 9.4% in 2016-17, up from 8.5% in the previous fiscal, as per the survey, while the industrial and services sectors are projected to grow at 6.7% and 10.8% respectively.

Maharashtra finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, who tabled the survey in the legislative assembly, will present the state’s 2017-18 budget on Saturday.

Mungantiwar pointed out that when the Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance assumed office in October 2014, the growth rate in the state was 5.4%. “I am confident Maharashtra will achieve double-digit growth rate in 2017-18,” he later said at a press conference.

The agriculture and allied sector in particular contracted 11.2% in 2014-15, Mungantiwar said, adding that “the sector has revived to register an estimated growth of 12.5 % this year”.

The economic survey estimates that production of cereals would grow by 80% over the 2015-16 yields, pulses by 187%, oilseeds by 142%, and cotton by 83%, in 2016-17. However, the survey projects a drop of 28% in sugarcane yield in the 2016-17 season.

The state finance minister said as per the 2011 census, of the total workforce of 45.5 million people in Maharashtra, 26 million were employed in the agriculture and allied sector as cultivators or farm labourers.

“The estimated growth rate of 12.5% is a positive for this huge workforce though a big challenge before us now is how to equitably distribute the gains of this growth among the overwhelming majority of small and marginal farmers in the state,” Mungantiwar said. While the growth in agriculture and allied activities would translate into an increase in the purchasing power of the farm sector workforce, the real gain would be an actual increase in the farmers’ income, he said.

Of the total 13.6 million registered farmers in the state, more than 10 million are in the ‘small farmers’ category, holding only up to 2 hectares of land, Mungantiwar said, adding that, of these ‘small farmers’, more than 6.7 million hold only up to 1 hectare of land, which places them in the ‘marginal farmers’ category. More than 4.5 million farmers own between 1 and 2 hectares, he added.

“This means an overwhelming majority of our farmers are small and marginal cultivators. In 1971, the average land holding in Maharashtra was 4.28 hectares but it has shrunk to 1.44 hectares today. The challenge is to distribute the gains of high economic growth among these farmers so that the sector comes out of the agrarian crisis,” Mungantiwar said.

Maharashtra’s actual revenue receipts during April-December 2016 increased by 11.4 % over the corresponding period in 2015, according to the survey. As against the revenue target of Rs2.20 trillion for 2016-17, the state had collected Rs1.40 trillion until end December 2016, which is 63.8% of the target.

Mungantiwar said the increase in revenue receipts proved fears that demonetization would adversely affect the state’s income were unfounded. He said the state would meet the revenue target by 31 March, 2017.

Maharashtra’s per capita income was Rs1,47,399 in 2015-16, up 11.4% from Rs1,32,341 in the previous fiscal, according to the survey.

Mungantiwar said the state’s fiscal indicators suggested a much healthier state of the economy than in 2014 when the BJP-led alliance assumed office. “The fiscal deficit, while well within the target of 2.7%, was 1.8% in 2014. We have reduced it to 1.5%. The ratio of debt to Maharashtra’s GSDP (Gross State Domestic Product ) was 16.6% when we formed the government but it has been cut down to 15.7%. In 2014-15, capital investment was only Rs20,664 crore but two years later we have raised it to Rs32,538 crore. The revenue deficit was Rs12,138 crore but we have brought it down to Rs3,645 crore,” Mungantiwar said.

First Published: Sat, Mar 18 2017. 12 09 AM IST

[Source: livemint.com]