The Indian agriculture, forestry & fishing industry has continued its trend of defying the slowdown caused due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest figures to compute India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) showed.
The gross value added (GVA) by agriculture has grown 4.5 percent in Apr-Jun FY22 when compared to FY21. In Apr-Jun FY21 the sector had reported a growth of 3.5 percent on-year.
Agriculture was the only sector to grow for April-June FY21 among eight used to compute India’s GDP. The overall Indian GVA at base price has risen 18.8 percent in Apr-Jun FY22 when compared to FY21.
The agriculture sector has added Rs 21,012 crore in the first three months of the fiscal in absolute monetary terms.
While the Indian GDP grew 20.1 percent in April-June 2021 according to the National Statistical Office’s estimates for the first quarter, the growth in GDP was largely due to the comparison with the GDP numbers seen in April-June 2020 when a nationwide lockdown was imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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When compared to the figures of Apr-Jun FY20, Indian overall GVA shrank 7.8 percent in Apr-Jun FY22, despite a 8.2 percent growth in GVA by the agriculture sector in Apr-Jun FY22 when compared to Apr-Jun FY20.
The early arrival of monsoon rains seen this year in central and northern India helped farmers accelerate sowing of summer-sown crops such as paddy rice, cotton, soybean and pulses, and also boosted crop yields too. The Indian agriculture sector saw record procurement of cereals, high food prices, and employment support schemes, multiple economists and rating agencies said in their reports.
The growth in the Indian agriculture sector was despite state-wise lockdowns imposed across India in April and May to control the spread of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The state-wise lockdowns coincided with the Rabi season harvests.
The latest GDP figure for agriculture is encouraging given the disruption in the supply chains and the subsequent impact on the income of farmers.
"GVA growth in Q1 FY2022 was higher than our forecast of 17.0%, led by the robust rabi harvest, and modestly better than expected performance of manufacturing, mining and construction," Aditi Nayar, Chief Economist, ICRA said in a press release.
The share of agriculture in GDP fell to 15.95 percent in Apr-Jun FY22 after rising to nearly 20 percent in the previous quarter and from 17.8 percent in FY20.
The growth in the Indian agriculture sector was despite farmer protests in parts of north India, against the three new farm laws passed by the central government.
The feisty protests by farmers, especially from food-bowl states, such as Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have brought cultivators and farm policies back to the centre stage, analysts said.
Farmer protests against the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 have gone on for the last nearly 1.5 years.Indian farmers say the laws will threaten their livelihoods by forcing them to sell to corporate giants with greater bargaining power at poor prices instead of government-run markets, which offer assured prices for cereals.