The government is ready with a blueprint for setting up a food security mission, that will cost the exchequer Rs4,880 crore. It had promised to set up the mission, covering three vital foodgrains—rice, wheat and pulses—during the National Development Council (NDC) meeting held in May.
With an average deficit of 5-6 million tonnes (mt) in wheat and 2-3mt in pulses every year, the mission comes at a time when the country is increasingly resorting to imports to make up the shortfall.
The National Food Security Mission (NFSM) has been made part of the 11th Plan (2007-12) and will be funded entirely by the Union government. “The agriculture ministry prepared a comprehensive note on NFSM with the objective of increasing production and productivity of the three crops as also enhancing employment opportunities and farm profit. The idea is to achieve self-sufficiency in foodgrains and also restore farmers’ confidence,” said a senior Planning Commission official, who did not want to be identified.
A detailed note has been sent to the finance ministry, which has to approve the pay- outs. The Planning Commission has in principle approved the setting up of the mission and has earmarked an estimated cost of Rs527 crore in the current fiscal itself.
According to estimates by the commission, while more than 40% of the total estimated cost (Rs4,880) will be spent on rice for an additional production of 10mt in 12 states, nearly 35% will be spent on wheat to get additional 8mt in nine states and 25% on pulses to generate 2mt of additional pulses in 11 states.
Besides, 4 million ha of additional area is being brought under pulses.
The districts that have been identified for implementing NFSM are those which have sizeable areas under these crops and where the potential for enhancing the productivity is much higher. These include 133 districts under rice, 138 under wheat and 168 under pulses.
Minor irrigation schemes such as sprinklers and optimal use of underground water will be tapped for improving irrigation facilities in these districts.
To improve production and productivity of rice, the government plans to invest money on demonstration of improved technologies and introduction of new varieties, besides weed management.