Efforts needed to raise farm output to ensure food security:PM
Concerned over large population still suffering from poverty and hunger, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said more efforts were required to achieve higher productivity and growth in the farm sector that would ensure food security to the people of this country.delhi Updated: Aug 15, 2010 11:51 IST
Concerned over large population still suffering from poverty and hunger, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said more efforts were required to achieve higher productivity and growth in the farm sector that would ensure food security to the people of this country.
"I am happy that the growth rate of our agriculture has increased substantially in the last few years. But we are still far from achieving our goal. We need to work harder so that we can increase the agricultural growth rate to 4 per cent per annum," Singh said while addressing the nation on the 64th Independence Day.
The agriculture sector posted a growth rate of only 0.2 per cent in 2009-10 because of severe drought in almost half of the country resulting in a fall in foodgrains output by 16 million tonnes at 218 million tonnes.
The Prime Minister stressed on the need to enhance crop productivity for increasing farm production and to ensure food security to the people.
"Our Government wants a food safety net in which no citizen of ours would go hungry. This requires enhanced agricultural production which is possible only by increasing productivity," Singh said.
The UPA government is in the process of enacting a legislation -- the National Food Security Act -- under which a fixed quantity of foodgrains would be provided every month to families below poverty line (BPL) at Rs 3 per kg.
Pointing out that the country has not witnessed any big technological breakthrough in agriculture after the Green Revolution, the Prime Minister said: "We need technology which would address the needs of dry land agriculture."
The Prime Minister announced that an institute is being set up in India after the name of renowned scientist Norman Borlaug. The Borlaug Institute of South Asia would facilitate availability of new and improved seeds and new technology to Indian farmers and also to the other countries of South Asia.
"In the history of Indian agriculture, Norman Borlaug commands a special place. About 40 to 50 years back he developed new and more productive seeds of wheat. Under the leadership of Indira Gandhiji, India achieved the Green Revolution by adopting these seeds," he said.
Singh also wanted that the Indian agriculture should be able to deal with new challenges like climate change, falling levels of ground water and deteriorating quality of soil.
To boost farm production, Singh said the UPA government, since it came to power in 2004, has launched new schemes and increased public investment in agriculture sector. It also raised the support price to farmers substantially.
"We have always taken care to provide remunerative prices to farmers so that they are encouraged to increase production. Support prices have been increased every year in the last six years," he said.
The MSP for wheat was enhanced to Rs 1,100 per quintal last year from Rs 630 per quintal in 2003-04. In paddy, this increase was from Rs 550 per quintal to Rs 1,000 per quintal.