Agri share in GDP hit 20% after 17 years: Economic Survey
Agriculture was the only sector to have clocked a positive growth at constant prices in 2020-21. The share of agriculture in gross domestic product (GDP) has reached almost 20 per cent for the first time in the last 17 years, making it the sole bright spot in GDP performance during 2020-21, according to the Economic Survey 2020-2021.
The resilience of the farming community in the face of adversities made agriculture the only sector to have clocked a positive growth of 3.4 per cent at constant prices in 2020-21, when other sectors slid.The share of agriculture in GDP increased to 19.9 per cent in 2020-21 from 17.8 per cent in 2019-20. Last time, the contribution of the agriculture sector in GDP at 20 per cent was in 2003-04.This was also the year when the sector clocked 9.5 per cent GDP growth, after the severe drought of 2002 when the growth rate was negative.Following 2003-04, the share has remained between 17 and 19 per cent.
“The growth in GVA (gross value added) of agriculture and allied sectors has been fluctuating over time. However, during 2020-21, while the GVA for the entire economy contracted by 7.2 per cent, growth in GVA for agriculture maintained a positive growth of 3.4 per cent,” according to the survey.The continuous supply of agricultural commodities, especially staples like rice, wheat, pulses and vegetables, also enabled food security.
In 2019-20 (according to fourth advance estimates), total food grain production (296.65 million tonnes) in the country was higher by 11.44 million tonnes than 2018-19.It was also higher by 26.87 million tonnes than the previous five years’ (2014-15 to 2018-19) average production of 269.78 million tonnes.The production also boosted allocation of food grains under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) that increased by 56 per cent in 2020-21, compared to 2019-20. The government allocated 943.53 lakh tonnes of food grains to states / Union territories till December 2020.
The survey also termed the new farm laws as a “remedy” and “not a malady” in a message to the farmer community opposing the laws.“The three agricultural reform legislations are designed and intended primarily for the benefit of small and marginal farmers who constitute around 85 per cent of the total number of farmers and are the biggest sufferers of the regressive Agricultural Produce Market Committee regulated market regime. The newly introduced farm laws herald a new era of market freedom that can go a long way in the improvement of farmer welfare in India,” it said.
The survey gave a note of various consultations and reports on the need for agricultural reforms.“The reforms in the agricultural sector were more overdue than even the labour reforms as the existing laws kept the Indian farmer enslaved to the local Mandi (wholesale market) and their rent-seeking intermediaries,” it said.It called for a paradigm shift in how agriculture was viewed, “from a rural livelihood sector to a modern business enterprise”.
Mass migration of blue earthworms in Meghalaya underlines sustainable land-use
Stone quarrying has affected population in some areas of East Khasi Hills district.
An army of blue earthworms, some measuring up to 1.6 feet, migrate about 300 metres up and down the steep slopes in Meghalaya’s East Khasi Hills every year.Scientists of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have for the first time prepared a report on the two-way mass migration in the district’s Mawlyngot area.But the locals apparently beat them to observing these earthworms, scientifically called Perionyx macintoshi, and the role they play in enhancing the fertility of soil on their land to shift to ecologically sustainable organic farming.
On the flip side, the scientist duo of Ilona Jacinta Kharkongor and Bhaskar Saikia found areas where “unsustainable land-use practices” have drastically reduced the population of earthworms to a few “lethargic wrigglers”. Much of the damage has been done by stone quarry and heavy earth-cutting for road connectivity and village expansion.
“The blue earthworms migrate twice annually — uphill in spring and downhill in autumn on inclines of up to 80-85 degrees to evade environmental factors that affect them. The research was done from 2011 to 2015 around the Mawlyngot plateau and the rivers Um Stew and Um Ñiuh around it,” Bhaskar Saikia of ZSI’s Shillong-based North East Regional Centre told The Hindu on Saturday.
The study he co-authored with Ms. Kharkongor was published in the latest issue of the journal, Records of the Zoological Survey of India.
The uphill migration starts in April-May coinciding with the onset of the monsoon when they emerge from the rivers and streams where they ‘overwinter’ under the rocks. Increased flow of water in such rivers and streams, signalling arrival of the rains, is said to trigger their emergence for the migration.The downhill migration happens during September-October when the vegetation begins to dry off and the temperature and humidity drop.
Ms. Kharkongor said the timing is crucial during downhill as the worms fail to reach their favoured destination if there is any deviation in the ecological factors. For instance, they had in October 2013 observed hundreds of earthworms having died of desiccation before they could reach the water body from 800 metres above sea level to a gorge 300 metres downhill.“The rain had stopped abruptly in September-end that year after a short burst of showers,” she said.
Mr. Saikia said the worms help enrich the soil. The local farmers had the wisdom to observe them and adopted organic practices, shifting from broomstick cultivation to grow organic tea that has gained in brand value abroad.
But the scientists observed the earthworm population dwindling in areas where human interference in the form of stone quarrying and earth-cutting has increased. “As in the case of other animals, factors like developmental activities, predation, erratic weather patterns and climate change pose risks to successful migrations of earthworms,” he said.
Biopesticides Industry in India to 2024 – Government impetus to improve soil health further supported by flexible registration process
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