States will be encouraged to frame district-specific plans for agriculture that are tailored to climatic conditions over the next Five-Year Plan, the full Planning Commission meeting headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed on Monday.
The Plan panel has also decided in favour of marketing reforms in agriculture, a greater role for organized farming and lowering the gap between actual and possible yields in farms. However, the focus of meeting on strategies to achieve the 4% growth in agriculture during the 11th Plan, remained on getting states to devise “agro-climatic” strategies for cultivation.
Funding needs for the tailor-made plans will be supplemented by the Centre, provided the states chip in too, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said.
The Prime Minister stressed that the Centre would “devise ways of helping states that are willing to evolve and implement such schemes.” These plans should have both short-term and long-term benefits visible to the entire economy, he said.
“It is relatively easy to identify crops that are suited agro-climatically to a particular zone. So, from the planning perspective, it is a positive step to determine the regions and identify what crops and infrastructure they would support. The next step is implementation, where difficulties often come into play,” said Subir Gokarn, executive director and chief economist, CRISIL Ltd.
In the 11th Plan, the financial requirement indicated by central ministries and states aggregate Rs1.33 lakh crore, of which the states share is Rs50,000 crore. The ministry has pitched for increased Plan allocation, with incentives for states to increase their share.
The agriculture ministry has also supported taking up land-related measures such as contract farming, land-leasing and setting up of land-share companies to promote agriculture growth. The ministry told the commission that the strategy for agriculture must “optimize gains from globalization while protecting livelihood.”
“A broad consensus has emerged among states for these strategies,” Ahluwalia said. He said the government was already moving on several of these reforms, including the wheat pulse and rice missions, that will devise the yield-increasing methods for these crops.