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Concern over growing gap in growth rates

HYDERABAD: Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative Daniel Gustafson on Friday expressed concern over the increasing gap between the country’s economic and agricultural growth rates.

He was addressing the three-day second annual forum of the Food and Nutrition Security Community, an initiative of UN agencies represented in India, organised by it in coordination with National Institute of Nutrition.

Mr. Gustafson pointed out that the agriculture sector’s growth in the recent past was in ‘doldrums’ ranging from two to 2.5 per cent; it was 2.8 per cent last year. In contrast, the economic growth was around eight per cent.

He said for a predominantly agricultural country, India needed to do much better. This seemed to have been recognised going by the 11th Plan target of 4.5 per cent. He listed the special economic zones (SEZ) and lack of access to land and higher agriculture commodity prices as the issues causing concern.

To tide over the problems afflicting the agriculture sector vis-À-vis food security, he suggested a marked improvement in access of technology to farmers with more focus on supply of inputs, like seeds. Also, more liberalised institutional reforms were necessary.

Speaking on ‘India’s nutrition challenges’, Prema Nandakumar, Director, Nutrition Foundation of India, said it was a matter of worry was the rising under-nutrition levels of children below six months along with growing over nutrition among the affluent.

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