Even as the role of the NITI Aayog is yet to be defined, it is set to take up agricultural development in Himachal Pradesh.
The newly inducted member of the aayog and agricultural economist, Ramesh Chand, is likely to visit the state in the third week of November to meet chief minister Virbhadra Singh and discuss various agricultural issues.
Chand, who had been heading the Delhi-based National Institute of Agricultural Economics and Policy Research, joined the NITI Aayog in September.
Recently, Chand wrote to the CM stating that there were several challenging issues before Himachal, including water resources, fertilisers, consumer affairs, food and public distribution systems and commerce. “Challenges are enormous and many more will crop up with the progress,” he said in his letter.
Chand said the NITI Aayog was working towards agricultural development through its task force. “I am keen to work on land, agriculture, price support, input subsidies research and development,” Chand added.
He also underlined the need for increasing investment in food, agriculture and water management. In his recent blog, Chand also underlined the need for increasing investment in agriculture to check price rise.
The state has also set up a task force on agricultural development that had submitted its report a few months ago to the NITI Aayog. However, the aayog is yet to compile its final report on agricultural development.
The state task force had given recommendations on horticulture, horticulture research, animal husbandry and related research, fisheries and irrigation. It suggested that there was a need to use the irrigation potential. For fisheries, the panel recommended modernisation and upgrade of fish landing centres to maintain the quality of reservoirs.
Contribution to GSDP
Agriculture’s share in the gross state development product (GSDP), though on a decline over the years, is still a significant contributor. Along with allied sectors, its share in GSDP was 57.9 % in 1950-55. In 2013-14, agriculture’s share in the GDSP reduced to just 14.25%.
Foodgrain production, which was 15.41 lakh million tonnes in 2012-13, has increased to 15.76 lakh million tonnes in 2013-14 and is expected to rise to 16.2 lakh million tonnes in 2014-15.