Finance minister P Chidambaram has kept funds for spurring a "second revolution" in eastern states unchanged at Rs. 1,000 crore, but Budget 2013-14 has pledged additional funds for an urgent need to make farmers grow more diverse crops, rather than just staples.
As farm yields in traditional grain-bowl states such as Punjab have levelled off, Chidambaram proposed Rs. 500 crore to encourage farmers to switch to alternative crops from traditional rice and wheat.
"The original Green Revolution states face problems of stagnating yields and over exploitation of water resources. The answer lies in crop diversification," the finance minister said in his budget speech, the last as part of the present UPA government.
With successful implementation of farm schemes to boost foodgrains production, Chidambaram proposed more funds for some existing programmes during 2013-14.
The allocation for the biggest farm scheme, the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), has been increased to Rs. 9,954 crore from Rs. 8,400 crore during 2012-13.
To bridge yield gaps, the outlay has been raised to Rs. 2,250 crore under the National Food Security Mission (NFSM) for 2013-14 from Rs. 1,763.57 crore in the current financial year.
"Small and marginal farmers are vulnerable everywhere, especially in drought-prone and ecologically stressed regions. Watershed management is crucial to improve productivity of land and water use," Chidambaram said.
A string of previously laggard states are poised to overtake Punjab and Haryana, India's traditional grain bowl, as the new powerhouses of food production, driven largely by - surprise - state support.
India had raised the annual funding for a "green revolution in eastern India" from Rs. 400 crore to Rs. 1,000 crore in 2012-13. The results are showing.
Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Bihar have posted over 10 million tonne of food output for the first time, with Madhya Pradesh picking a top central government award.
With the gradual weakening of the 60s green revolution, which had transformed India into a nation that could feed itself, policymakers are focusing on turning the foot-dragging eastern states into the next food bowl.