The agriculture sector will get Rs. 25,000 crore boost from the Central Government in the next four years, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday.
The grant provided in addition to the existing Central schemes will require states to maintain baseline funds for agriculture and come up with new innovative district level plans. “The baseline limit would be funds allocated in the state budget for agriculture,” Planning Commission’s deputy chairman Montek Singh Aluwalia told reporters.
PM said this will ensure that public investment in agriculture both from the Centre and the states would rise. “I agree that state specific plans taking into account local needs and capabilities should be at the core of any agricultural revamp strategy,” he said, in his concluding remarks at the National Development Council (NDC) meeting.
The issue of food security cropped repeatedly at the meeting and Singh later announced that a `food security mission’ would be launched to curb rising prices of food products by ensuring adequate supply of food grains, pulses and edible oil. The mission will ensure production of additional eight million tones of wheat, 10 million tones of rice and two million tones of pulses in the next four years.
Singh said that the recent rise in prices of agricultural products was caused by sluggish supply against rising demand. “This has been particularly true of wheat, pulses and edible oils. We have had to import many of these products to ensure adequate availability of essential food items,’’ Singh said.
The NDC also adopted a 14-point resolution dividing responsibilities equally between the Central and the state governments with an aim to achieve four per cent agriculture growth by the end of 11th five-year plan. “Concrete proposals to implement these steps will be spelt out in detail as quickly both by the Central government and the state government,” the resolution said.
Delivering the inaugural address, Singh highlighted the feature yield gaps between regions and states. “There are gaps between actual yields and the yields that are technologically feasible. These yield- increase potentials vary from 40 per cent and 100 per cent. Increased production in the next three or four years can only come from bridging this massive yield gap,’’ Singh added.
He said the agriculture sector needs an integrated and holistic approach and not a fragmented one. “What we have been missing in agriculture so far is a common thread that ties all our interventions into a common whole and focuses on tangible outcomes. We need to move away from mechanical implementation of fragmented schemes towards an integrated holistic approach,” the PM said.
Singh assured the state governments of central assistance on a scale large enough to make a visible impact in the next three-to-four years.