Monday, 2 February 2015

Govt aims at 4% growth in agriculture

NAGPUR: To achieve the projected growth rate of 4% in agriculture in the XII plan, the new government at the Centre has launched a number of initiatives that will directly or indirectly benefit farmers and agriculture. The government has especially made specific financial provisions for this.

Jai Prakash Mishra, agriculture adviser, National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, told TOI that the Central government was taking all care to ensure the agriculture growth 4% was achieved. One of the biggest scheme under these initiatives focuses on 'price stabilization'. "A Rs500 crore price stabilization fund has been approved by the standing finance committee and is awaiting cabinet approval," he said.

Mishra was in city for a national seminar on 'sustainable management of land resources for livelihood security' organized by the Indian Society for Soil Survey and Land Use Planning at the auditorium of National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning (NBSS&LUP).
 
Three major crops to be covered under price stabilization are onion, tomato and potato as their prices are very volatile. The government has plans of involving National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) and National Council for Farmers Cooperatives (NCFC) that will be made to procure farmers produce in case of crisis. They will be given working capital from the corpus. These agencies can store the produce and release it in market at right time with right price so that farmer is not put to loss. "This will introduce price regime and prevent distress sale. It will create a win-win situation or farmer as well as organizations," said Mishra.

The list of other priorities include soil health cards, creation of agriculture infrastructure (government has created a Rs200 crore fund for creating e-connectivity and e-market), and the krishi sinchana yojna with a provision of Rs1000 crore. Mishra said an important component of these was 'bringing economies of scale' to agriculture. To get right price for farm produce, government was supporting the concept of farmers or producer companies or farmers groups. Another step towards improving agriculture was 'infusion of innovation and technology' in areas where technology had not reached yet and also improving technology where it exists, concentrating on proven technologies in a given area, direct transfer of funds of various government schemes to implementing agencies, incentives to performing states in the form of 'Karman' award.

Mishra asserted agriculture could be changed for better as had been proved under the National Food Security Mission where against the expected target of 20 million tonnes of food grains in XI plan, the country produced 40 MT. This was made possible with three things, use of existing machinery, involvement of existing state extension departments and project management teams.

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