Thursday, March 17, 2011

Recommendations of Working Group on Agriculture

The Working Group on Agricultural Production, comprising Chief Ministers of Haryana (Chairperson), Punjab, West Bengal and Bihar has recommended a number of measures for increasing agricultural production and productivity.

A summary of major recommendations of Working Group are as follows: -
1. Bridge the horizontal and vertical gaps in yield by ascertaining these through specific studies and address them through appropriate interventions like timely sowing, balanced use of fertilizers and soil ameliorants, improving water use efficiency etc.

2. Expansion of area under boro (winter) rice by increasing cropping intensity especially in the states of Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, and West Bengal. (Extending Green Revolution to Eastern India programme launched to address this)

3. Assam should also be included in the Extending Green Revolution to Eastern India programme. (Included)

4. As electric power is unlikely to be available to the extent required, it is necessary to assist farmers partly in meeting higher cost of diesel pumping sets for lifting water in eastern states. A scheme on the lines of Diesel Subsidy Scheme of Bihar should be launched in other States also.

5. Undertake an ambitious time bound programme of ground water use through bore-wells, shallow wells and lift irrigation schemes in eastern India.

6. Additional investments are required to maintain canals and to fund research on conjunctive use of brackish water with canal water.

7. Develop and upscale integrated farming systems including crops, horticulture, livestock etc. to generate both on-farm and off-farm employment for small and marginal farmers.

8. Include short duration summer mung-bean varieties under zero tillage in areas under irrigated cereal production systems of the country, and Reintroduce pulses in sugarcane production systems areas. In eastern India, relay cropping of zero till planting of winter legumes (lentil, chickpea etc) should be focussed in ‘rice-fallows’.

9. Promote production of hybrid seed aggressively and provide incentives to Private Sector.

10. Improve seed replacement rate of oilseed crops. Popularise Cyto-plasmic Male Sterility (CPM) based hybrids as they promise substantial productivity enhancement. Superior sunflower hybrids should be developed and promoted in northern India. In castor, special focus is required for the development of hybrids and varieties resistant to abiotic stresses such as drought and salinity.

11. State Seed Corporations should either be reformed/re-organized to make them vibrant organisations or should be closed to allow development of alternative mechanisms.

12. Fertiliser companies should produce right kind of mixtures of nutrients to suit the specific requirements of soils in all agro-climatic zones. Target to bring at least 10% area under bio-fertiliser application. Encourage use of liquid fertilisers.

13. There is need to create appropriate pesticide/ bio-pesticide quality control set up and to provide deterrent punishment for the sale of spurious pesticides.

14. New irrigation technologies like furrow irrigation, mulching, drip and sprinkler irrigation etc. need to be promoted as a national priority. Micro irrigation systems (i.e. drip and sprinkler) must be promoted as a matter of priority in both canal command and rainfed areas. In situ water conservation is the best solution for stability and sustainability of agriculture, and improving yields of crops in the rainfed areas.

15. Institutional development across States is a priority area for equitable flow of credit. Credit should be made available at not more than 4% per annum rate of interest.

16. Farm mechanisation is not only necessary for increasing productivity, but has become essential in view of emerging labour shortage and needs considerable support from Government. A Technology Mission on Farm Mechanisation should be started.

17. Encourage establishment of agri-business centres by Self Help Groups to purchase, maintain and provide farm machinery to farmers under custom hiring.

18. All types of tools, implements, machinery and equipment should be allowed to be freely imported without any import duty.

19. States may consider taking up segregation of feeders for dedicated availability of power to agriculture sector and making power available in un-served areas especially in eastern India.

20. Much needed emphasis to encourage use of solar, biomass and wind power in agriculture is required. It will be highly desirable to initiate a National programme on Harnessing Bio-energy in Agriculture.

21. A time bound programme to fill up existing vacancies in all KVKs and Extension Directorates should be prepared and implemented.

22. Train and Develop Technology Agents through vocational training at State Agricultural Universities for establishment of Agri-Clinics.

23. It is necessary to bring in private sector investments for developing marketing infrastructure to give better choices to farmers and for developing more efficient supply chain for better handling of agriculture produce.

24. System of Spot Electronic Trading, one of the biggest institutional reforms in agriculture marketing system, needs to be institutionalised.

25. Funds available under the Scheme ‘Gramin Bhandaran Yojana’ should be fully utilised to create a network of rural godowns in the country.

26. Methodology of calculating costs of cultivation of Commission for Agriculture Cost and Prices (CACP) must be reviewed in the context of need to provide economic and remunerative prices to the farmers. The Working Group supports acceptance of the National Commission on Farmers’ report suggesting 50% higher price over the actual cost of cultivation or adoption of Bureau of Industrial Cost and Prices (BICP) formula used for estimating industrial costs.

27. Minimum Support Price (MSP) for vegetables, especially Potato, Onion and Garlic, should also be fixed by GOI.

28. Market for agricultural produce must be immediately freed of all sorts of restrictions on movement, trading, stocking, finance, exports etc. No monopoly, including that of APMCs or corporate licensees, should be allowed.

29. Agriculture land ceiling for corporates could be fixed at 25 times the ceiling for individual farmers.

30. Proper policy should be put in place for land lease and contract farming. Guidelines need to be chalked out for contract farming/leasing, to ensure that the rights of both land owner and tenant are safeguarded.

31. Indian companies can be encouraged to buy lands in foreign countries for producing pulses and oilseeds under long term supply contracts to Indian canalising agencies.

32. A consolidation exercise should be taken up by the Planning Commission to convert existing CSSs into a few focussed schemes.

33. From the Twelfth Plan, it will be advisable to extend the NFSM to cover all the districts of wheat producing States. Crops such as maize and coarse cereals (sorghum and bajra) should be included in NFSM.

34. Entire statistical system needs to be revamped to cover all crops and to increase accuracy of data collection and elimination of higher or lower bias.

35. A national system of collecting and monitoring identified weather parameters should be developed and put in place using RKVY and other funds. Market information along with daily weather conditions should be provided to the farmers using modern ICT tools and techniques (SMS, Panchayat e-services, FM radio, AIR, TV etc.).

36. The States may consider setting up separate Universities of Veterinary and Animal Sciences. Union Government should also set up a Livestock Mission

37. Efforts to promote use of plastics in agricultural operations should be encouraged.

38. A coordination mechanism for Ministries of Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Public Distribution, Irrigation, Fertilisers and Power in the Central/State Government is urgently needed. A Scientific Advisory Council on Agriculture should be created under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister.

39. States may consider bringing all agriculture and allied sector related production programmes under the Agriculture Production Commissioner, for coordinating with other allied departments.

40. A comprehensive policy for insurance coverage of all important food crops and live stock needs to be put in place on priority and the same should be implemented with additional funding support from the Centre, with village as a unit instead of the Block.

41. Norms of Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) should be revised and the compensation for the loss of crops due to natural calamities like flood/drought/frost should be enhanced to at least Rs. 25,000 per hectare.

42. A massive effort for building modern silos to arrest post harvest losses of foodgrains is needed at the national level through both public and private sector interventions as a national priority.

43. In addition to use of location-specific technology, suitable policy initiatives in terms of insurance, preferential credit, strengthening infrastructure and extension services are also needed for climate proofing rainfed agriculture.

No comments:

Post a Comment