New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 29 May announced a Rs25,000 crore ($6 billion) plan for new farm sector projects by states, besides launching a food security mission to enhance output of wheat, rice and pulses.
Speaking at the 53rd meeting of the National Development Council, he also warned that small and marginal farming had become an unviable proposition and until farming was made viable at this scale, it would be virtually “impossible” to reduce rural poverty and distress.
“The Central government will commit Rs25,000 crore in the next four years as its share of funding for this major programme”, Singh said, while adding that this was aimed at increasing public investment in agriculture both from the states and the Centre.
He said the Centre will commit funds to finance their plans under this programme provided states maintain their baseline levels of expenditure and contribute “to some extent” as their share of the plan.
The NDC also adopted a resolution to raise wheat production by 8 million metric tonnes, rice by 10mmt and pulses by 2mmt over the next four years.
Singh said public and private investment in agriculture sector should be seen in the context of a larger trend whereby subsidies have been increasing and investments declining.
The Prime Minister also expressed concern over use of new technologies for enhancing farm productivity.
“One feature that stands out is the lack of any breakthroughs in agricultural production technology in recent years. There is a technology fatigue which we need to address,” he said.
The Prime Minister said reversing the prolonged slowdown in the agriculture sector is essential for “our goal of inclusive growth, for ensuring that growth benefits all sections of society and all regions of the country.”
Later speaking to reporters, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said that this was the first NDC meeting exclusively on agriculture sector.
He said the new package would come as an incentive for those states wanting to initiate new agri projects based on their requirements.