Tamil Nadu: Agriculture sector is growing, but at a snail’s pace | Chennai News – Times of India


CHENNAI: Even as the state finances went through rough weather for more than a decade, agricultural sector provided some saving grace, registering steady growth in the past 15 years, but it is nothing great to rejoice, says the white paper on state finances released by finance minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan on Monday.
He went on to say that industrial growth rate dipped between 2011 and 2016 and later climbed in the past five years. Services sector, on the other hand, has been steadily declining from 11.23% to 7.44% and later to 6.03%. The sectoral growth pattern reveals that overall, the services and secondary sectors recorded higher growth rates than the primary sector. Between 2006-2007 and 2010-2011, agriculture sector grew at 4.07% per annum, whereas in the next five years it grew at 5.24%. The growth rate increased to 5.86% in the past five years. Still, given that the primary sector continues to provide bulk of the employment, unless policy correctives are introduced, growth in TN would not be inclusive, he said.
The sharpest decline in the annual growth rate was in the industrial sector. The average annual growth rate dropped from 10.30% in 2006-11 to 5.49% in the period 2011-16 before accelerating to 8.17% in the next five years. The services sector, likewise, decelerated sharply from a 11.23% growth in the period from 2006–11 to 7.44% in 2011-16 and further to 6.03% in the period 2016-20. Slowdown in the performance of industrial and services sectors in recent years is an area of concern. This skewed pattern of growth has meant that the two larger sectors of the economy failed to fire and grow rapidly enough. It also implies that TN could lose ground to other major states unless the trends are quickly reversed.
The share of Tamil Nadu’s agricultural sector in the gross state domestic product (GSDP) was 23% in 1981-1993. It declined to 11.87% in 2004-2005 and further to 7.76% in 2013-14. But employment in the sector reduced by only 10% – from 54% to 44% between 1981 and 2010. Even today, 42% of TN’s workers are either farmers or farm workers. In rural areas, more than 58% of households depend on agriculture for livelihood. The NSSO data survey (2011-2012) says more than 20% of TN farmers live below the poverty line. Between 2011 and 2013, the gross area sown reduced by 12.7%, says a recent Nabard report.
Lack of proper understanding of the agricultural and horticultural sectors and reluctance on the part of the government to look at long-term solutions are reasons for farmers’ sufferings, experts feel. It should first create infrastructure to store excess run-off into the sea. Tamil Nadu rivers, water experts estimate, waste more than 700tmcft of water as run-off every year. One tmcft of water, at present, helps the state cultivate 2,000 hectares of land.

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