New Delhi: The Union government has set an ambitious target of producing additional 20 mt of wheat, rice and pulses in the XIth Five Year Plan Period (2002-2007), said Sharad Pawar, minister for agriculture.
Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, the Minister said: “Additional rice production is planned at 10 million tonnes, wheat 8 million tonnes and pulses output is targeted at two million tonnes.”
Total foodgrain production has gone up from 198.36 million tonnes in 2004-05 to 216 million tonnes this year. Oilseeds output has risen while cotton, soyabean and sugarcane production are at a record high.
There is an improvement but the real problem is pressure created by small land holdings. Agriculture sector needs to be deregulated so that farmers get better price for their crops, he said. “We are not allowing farming community to take advantage of the economic boom,” said he.
Pawar said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has already announced a Rs17,000 crore package to 36 districts which reported farmer sucides. Non-availability of irrigation water seems to be the problems in these districts and thus irrigation schemes have been taken up, he added.
“Lot of weightage has been given to irrigation. Budgetary allocation for irrigation in 2004-05 was about Rs5,000 crore and it was Rs7,000 crore last year. This year this has been increased to Rs11,000 crore,” he said.
Besides, soil testing laboratories are being set in 230-240 districts to provide farmers with a soil card that would indicate soil health that would guide them about the kind of fertilizers to be used.
Pawar said the average growth rate in agriculture sector during the last two years has been 4.35%.
An annual growth of 4% in the agriculture sector in the 11th Plan is being planned. In order to improve the growth rate of the agriculture sector, the Government has launched the National Food Security Mission with an outlay of Rs4,882 crore for the XIth Plan period. “It aims at producing an additional 10 million tonnes of rice, 8 million tons of wheat and two million tons of pulses by the end of the Plan.
The Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, with an outlay of Rs25,000 crore has been launched, besides, National Rainfed Area Authority to assist and support in planning for rainfed areas has been established, he said.