The growth in agriculture and its allied sectors will be higher during this fiscal as the country is likely to harvest bumper crop buoyed by good rains, agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said on Thursday.
The minister also assured that the Centre will procure pulses and other crops if rates fall below the minimum support price (MSP) level.
"I am confident that the growth in agri-sector in 2016-17 would be much better than last few years," Singh told media while briefing his ministry's achievements in last 30 months.
The farm sector growth stood at 1.2% in the 2015-16 fiscal due to drought.
Niti Aayog has pegged farm and allied sector's growth at 5.5% for this fiscal on the back of record kharif foodgrain production at 135 million tonnes and likely bumper output in the ongoing rabi season, helped by good monsoon in most parts of the country.
Asked about farmers' distress in view of sharp fall in wholesale prices of various commodities including pulses, onion and potatoes, the minister said, "We are procuring copra and arecanut under the Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) to ensure MSP to farmers. Even the Food Ministry is also procuring pulses under Price Stabalisation Fund."
On onions and potatoes, he said that the centre will start MIS operation after the state governments send the proposal for the same. "I have not received any proposal so far in case of onions and potatoes."
Asked for his views on Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's demand to give bonus on rabi crops and farm loan waiver, Singh took a dig at the Congress leader saying that Gandhi is taking out his frustration for "not being promoted as the party president".
Singh said farmers have faced some discomfort due to demonetisation but it has not impacted the ongoing sowing of rabi (winter) crops like wheat. "In fact, rabi sown area till yesterday was higher than the year-ago period," he added. The Agriculture Ministry is aiming a record 270 million tonnes of foodgrains in the 2016-17 crop year (July-June), as against 252.22 million tonnes in the last year