Farm crisis: Govt to incentivise states
The centre will offer incentives to states that take urgent measures to avert farm crisis by implementing strategies to raise agricultural output, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday.
"I had directed the Planning Commission to work with the Ministry of Agriculture and come up with specific proposals to promote state-specific agricultural strategies and ways of incentivising states to adopt such strategies," he said, presiding over the meeting of the full Planning Commission.
The Prime Minister said whatever strategies were chosen by the states, they must deliver tangible benefits to farmers, consumers and the rural economy as a whole.
"This is important if we have to avert any crisis in the agrarian sector and fulfil the needs of a growing economy," Singh said.
In its presentation before the meeting, the department of agriculture stated that a draft National Policy for farmers was being considered by a committee of secretaries and a broad consensus among states has emerged.
The draft policy involves setting up of Rainfed Area Authority with a budget of Rs 300 crore, bringing additional area under irrigation, launching of special wheat production programme with investment of Rs 841 crore and an action plan for increasing pulses' production.
Under the Horticulture Mission, a public-privatisation model has been suggested by the Ministry of Agriculture.
The meeting discussed the reports of the National Development Council (NDC) sub-committee on agriculture to draw a strategy for increasing agricultural growth rate to four per cent during the 11th plan from less than two per cent between 1996-2004.
The Prime Minister said various problems-poverty, unemployment and regional disparities were inter-related and could be addressed by stepping up agricultural output.
The government, he said, had already taken a number of initiatives to deal with agricultural crisis and to address problems of districts, where farmer suicides were common.
He added that the key element of the new strategy will be inclusive growth, which would not come from following a "purely business as usual approach."
Agricultural yields, he said, can be increased by 40-100 per cent in the next three or four years by focusing on yield gap reduction and expanding area of cultivation.
"There are substantial yield gaps in all states-between actually achieved at the farm level, and the yields that are feasible given the agro-climatic constraints and the existing technologies," Singh emphasised.
The action plan of food security proposes to increase productivity of rice from 1.5 to 2.5 tons per hectares in Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Eastern UP.
On the wheat front, the action plan envisages enhancing productivity from 1.5 to 2.5 tons per hectare in Eastern and Central India.
In pulses, the proposal includes making available ten thousand tons of improved seeds for Kharif 2007.
In the animal husbandry sector, government is contemplating to promote public-private in marketing and development of pastures and fodder banks to accelerate milk production from 100 million tonnes to 126.5 million tonnes per annum.