India eyes 10pc economic growth

New Delhi, July 18:

India said its resurgent economy could touch an annual growth of 10 per cent in the financial year beginning April 2008, provided its ailing farm sector picks up.

“Achieving a 10 per cent growth in 2007-2008 (April-March) is tough, but it is possible in 2008-2009,” finance minister P Chidambaram told economists at a function in New Delhi. “That will be a fitting finale for the government’s five-year tenure,” the finance minister said, adding the target could be achieved only if India increased farm output.

“It will be possible to push up the economic growth by improving the performance of agriculture, which has been stagnating,” the finance minister said. Agriculture contributes a fifth of India’s economic output and is a direct or indirect source of income for two-thirds of its population.

Annual per capita food grain production shrunk from 207-kg in 1995 to 186-kg last year. The rate of agricultural growth fell from five percent in the mid-1980s to less than two per cent in the past five years.

India exported no wheat last year after shortages forced it to import the commodity for the first time in six years. The Indian economy grew faster-than-expected at a record 9.4 per cent pace in the year to March, beating forecast of 9.2 per cent.