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Exempted from lockdown, agri sector set to grow at 11.7%

The 11.79 per cent project growth outpaces the average sectoral growth of 2.9 per cent that agriculture and allied activities sector has witnessed since 2012-13.

Written by Zeeshan Shaikh | Mumbai |
March 6, 2021 3:31:04 am
The total irrigated area in the state has increased by 12 per cent -- from 35.97 lakh hectare to 40.52 lakh hectare. (Express Photo)

Buoyed by a good monsoon and the exemption granted by Maharashtra government from Covid-19 lockdown, “agriculture & allied activities” remained the only sector that emerged unscathed from the contraction of the state economy and is expected to grow at a rate of 11.7 per cent during 2020-21.

The 11.79 per cent project growth outpaces the average sectoral growth of 2.9 per cent that agriculture and allied activities sector has witnessed since 2012-13. The previous highest growth witnessed by the sector, which accounts for over 50 per cent of livelihoods in Maharashtra, was 21 per cent in 2016-17.

Last year, the economic survey had projected a modest growth of 3.1 per cent. However, revised estimates have pegged the growth at 6.1 per cent.

“The state government exempted agriculture sector from Covid-19 lockdown. Various measures regarding transport and distribution of agricultural inputs, transport and sale of agricultural produce, online renewal of licenses, coordination among the state departments, use of modern technology, etc by the state government benefited in giving support to agriculture and allied activities sector during the lockdown period,” the 2020-21 Economic Survey Report stated.

The total irrigated area in the state has increased by 12 per cent — from 35.97 lakh hectare to 40.52 lakh hectare.

In spite of the growth that has been projected for the sector, banks continue to fail to meet the annual credit plan for agriculture.

According to the report, while the annual target for agriculture in the annual credit plan was Rs 93,626 crore up to December 2020, only Rs 40,515 crore worth of loans were disbursed.

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The disbursal is nearly 62 per cent more compared to last year, when only Rs 24,897 crore of the total annual credit plan of Rs 87,322 crore was disbursed. During 2020-21, till September, agricultural term loans of Rs 30,014 crore were disbursed as against Rs 34,427 crore during 2019-20.

In December 2019, the Uddhav Thackeray-led government had announced a loan waiver for farmers under the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Shetkari Karjmukti Yojna. The total expenditure estimated was Rs 21,000 crore, covering over 30 lakh farmers. The report said that since the inception of the scheme till January, 2021, benefit of Rs 19,847 crore has been given to 31.04 lakh farmers.

According to the data presented in the Economic Survey report, the kharif season of 2020 witnessed a 2.63 per cent increase in area under sowing – from 152.88 lakh hectare to 156.99 lakh hectare.

Sugarcane has pegged the highest increase in area in sowing by about 39 per cent – from 8.22 lakh hectare to 11.42 lakh hectare.

Its production is also set to increase by about 40 per cent – from 69.31lakh metric tonne to 97.26 lakh metric tonne
this year.

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