Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen has forecast a farm output growth of 0.5 per cent to one per this year, despite a fall in kharif output.

“I have a feeling that there could be a kharif shortfall of two to three per cent. But some of these losses could be offset in the rabi season and at the end of the day I expect farm growth to be positive,” he told mediapersons here today.

There has been a sharp decline in output of coarse cereals and pulses besides a general decline in other crop groups, he pointed out.

Sen said inflation could continue to remain high for the next two months on account of hike in fuel prices. He expected the build up of oil prices to mount inflationary pressures.

“Two weeks of September saw the oil price pass through and its effect will be felt across the sectors from October onwards,” he said.

On farmers’ suicides, he said one reason for farmers getting caught in the debt trap was that they were tilting heavily towards growing risky cash crops.

Sen earlier inaugurated a full-fledged School of Economics at the University of Hyderabad.

Delivering a lecture on the occasion, Sen pointed out the internal conflicts that economics as a discipline was facing at present. Giving an example, he said that while advising farmers about potential benefits of optimizing their farm inputs and labour time, economists often are guided by the subtle assumptions that all economic agents are rational decision makers and hence they know their interest best.

C.H. Hanumantha Rao, Chancellor of University, gave an account of the issues that were faced by farmers in India in 1980’s and how the administration was trying to find solution to these problems which included improving soil quality, fertility and pests menace.

amitmitra@thehindu.co.in

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(This article was published on October 22, 2012)
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