Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Agricultural Production.

20.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries the average annual increase in product per man in agriculture since the inception of the Third Programme for Economic and Social Development; and if he expects that the overall average annual rate of growth of 5.1 per cent projected in the programme will be attained.

The figure of 5.1 per cent mentioned by the Deputy is the annual average increase in productivity projected in the Third Programme for the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector over the four-year period 1969 to 1972. The estimated average increase in gross agricultural product per person engaged in agriculture in the years 1969 and 1970 was 2.1 per cent per year. The 5.1 per cent figure was a projection based on certain assumptions, which may or may not be realised, and, having regard to the fluctuations inherent in agricultural production and in markets and prices, it is not possible for me to forecast at this stage whether the projection will be fully attained.

Is the Minister not prepared now to admit that the Third Programme in relation to agriculture has been a complete flop?

No, I would not be prepared to admit anything of the kind.