New Delhi: The agriculture sector performed
exceedingly well in 2011, with record foodgrains production of
over 240 million tonnes giving enough leeway for the
government to lift a ban on exports of wheat and non-basmati
rice and introduce the Food Security Bill in Parliament.
Farmers` long-standing demand for crop loans at a 4 per
cent rate of interest was met during the year, although with a
rider that the facility would be available to only those
farmers that pay their crop loans on time.
A sharp rise in the farm credit target by Rs 1,00,000
crore to Rs 4,75,000 crore and the launch of new schemes with
a total outlay of Rs 1,500 crore to raise production of
nutri-cereals, fodder, palm oil, vegetables and protein
supplements were the other major highlights of the year.
These items -- and not wheat and rice -- were the major
contributors to food inflation, which remained high almost
throughout the year before falling sharply to nearly a
four-year low of 1.81 per cent for the week ended December 10.
Helped by timely and bountiful rains last year, the
agriculture sector bounced back with a record harvest of
241.56 million tonnes of foodgrains in the 2010-11 crop year,
with production of wheat, pulses and coarse cereals touching
an all-time high.
In the 2009-10 crop year (July-June), foodgrains
production fell by 16 million tonnes to 218 million tonnes due
to a severe drought in 2009.
A noteworthy performance was seen in pulses and oilseeds
production, on which the government has focused its efforts to
make India self-sufficient and reduce dependence on imports.