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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

'Create a new ministry for dairy, fisheries'

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 20, 2011
First Published: 00:28 IST(20/7/2011) | Last Updated: 00:30 IST(20/7/2011)

In a move that can rattle Sharad Pawar, food minister KV Thomas has suggested that the agriculture ministry be broken up to create a new independent ministry for fishing and dairy as it has huge growth potential.

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As head of the agriculture ministry, Pawar is in-charge of the departments of agriculture and cooperation and animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries.

But agriculture has always got precedence because of its political and economic importance.

"Despite so much potential, I have a feeling that the department has not so far acquired as much development as it should have," Thomas said in a recent letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

He presented data to back his suggestion: Animal husbandry output constitutes over 30% of the country's agriculture GDP. The contribution of livestock and fishery sector to total GDP has been over 6%.

"India is endowed with a high population of livestock in the world and is also the highest producer of milk," said Thomas, who was a MoS under Pawar before he got independent charge of the food ministry, which was taken away from his senior Cabinet colleague in a reshuffle earlier this year.

The letter comes at a time when milk prices have witnessed an unprecedented increase of about 30% in the past year. The Central Statistical Organisation estimates that the per capita milk consumption is increasing but the production has almost stagnated.

Another area where India has failed to harvest its potential is fisheries, though it is the second largest producer of inland fish in the world.

Raising these challenges, Thomas said the Centre had several reputed institutions that can change the allied agriculture sector. Also, the department has sufficient funds to turn the sector to help India's economic growth success story.

"There is no dearth of funds…but more attention is paid to agriculture therefore diluting the required attention towards animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries," he said.

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