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No integrated strategy for food security, agriculture

india Updated: Feb 28, 2011 23:33 IST
Hindustan Times
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The budget comes in the backdrop of an emerging global food crisis, caused partly by extreme weather events in some major food producing countries, and partly, by escalating petroleum price arising from the battles in the Middle East. It also comes in the wake of continuing food inflation. The last budget included special production efforts in Eastern India, organisation of 60,000 pulses and oilseeds villages, initiation of a Mahila Kisan Shashaktikaran Pariyojana, and steps in areas of credit, fertilizer subsidy and infrastructure development. Unfortunately, most of these programmes are yet to be implemented properly and yet to have an impact.

The major components of the 2011-12 budget relating to farming include bringing green revolution to the eastern region, integrated development of 60,000 pulses villages in rain-fed areas, promotion of oil palm, increasing production of fruits and vegetables and promotion of nutritious cereals, and initiation of a National Mission for protein supplements.

On the whole the budget contains several good proposals but it lacks a vision and a strategy for keeping farmers on the farm. There is no strategy or programme for attracting and retaining youth in farming. Most of the farm graduates seek employment in the organised sector and are not interested in going back to villages. The major deficiency of this budget is that it has not addressed two goals of the National Policy for Farmers in November 2007. This policy calls for an income orientation to farming and the measurement of agricultural growth in terms of growth rate in the real income of farm families. Also it calls for steps for Yuva Kisans to take to farming as a profession through an action plan involving higher farm productivity and larger income from non-farm activities.

It is unfortunate that in a year of global food crisis and food inflation, an opportunity to accelerate agricultural progress and agrarian prosperity has been missed. The only hope for farmers is the enactment of a Food Security Bill which confers legal access to food.