Agriculture remains wanting

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2007-03-29 08:58:15 – The Standing Committee on Agriculture) 2006-07) is an unhappy committee. One does not have to look far for the reasons for this unhappiness

New Delhi, 29th March, 2007.
The Standing Committee on Agriculture) 2006-07) is an unhappy committee. One does not have to look far for the reasons for this unhappiness – lowering of per hectare growth of produce,, farmers’ rampant suicides, shortage of urea, inadequate water for irrigation, shortage of power for running irrigation pumps and last but certainly not the least,

old unimproved seeds that do nothing to increase productivity of grains.
The 23rd report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, chaired by Prof. Ram Gopal Yadav has noted that despite their repeated recommendations in various reports to substantially increase budgetary allocations of the agriculture sector to give required impetus to agricultural development, the allocations in respect of this vital sector continues to be unsatisfactory and much below the requirement.
The Committee has been informed by the representatives of the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation that to build and sustain momentum of the agriculture sector it is necessary that both state and central plan outlays are augmented to achieve the required percentage of anticipated growth in the agriculture sector. Keeping that in view, they had proposed a plan outlay of Rs. 5917 crores for 2006-07 but only Rs. 4840 crores had been approved. The Committee noted that plan allocation of Rs. 3920 crores for 2005-06 at revised estimate stage was 6.3% less as compared to budget estimate of Rs. 4209.32 crores of the same year.
The Committee report, tabled in Parliament during the dying days of the first half of the budget session, noted that they are not at all impressed by the rosy picture portrayed by Member Secretary, Planning Commission during evidence where he profoundly declared that Plan allocation in favour of all the three departments of Agriculture put together (Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Department of Agricultural Research and Education and Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries) has been doubled within a single plan period from Rs. 3242 crores in 2002-03 to Rs. 6900 crores.
The Committee observed that in view of the inflation and value of money in real terms, the overall allocations are not actually being made from agriculture to carry out activities under its various programmes, although it has been termed as a priority sector. This can also be gauged from the fact that percentage share of agriculture in central plan outlay of Government of India has come down from 2.84 % in 2005-06 to 2.73% in 2006-07, of which share of Department of Agriculture and Cooperation accounts for 1.98% in 2005-06 and 1-89% in 2006-07.
The report said the Committee were of the firm opinion that to meet the challenges faced by agriculture sector, the government has to reprioritize the role of Department of Agriculture and Cooperation to achieve the targeted 4% growth rate envisaged for the agricultural and allied sector and to help the farmers to compete in the WTO regime.
The Committee strongly recommended that the Department should be provides Rs. 5917 crores by Planning Commission and Ministry of Finance at the revised estimates stage, as proposed by them at the budgetary estimates stage, since many of their new initiatives and other programmes are suffering owing to lack of requisite funding. The Committee further recommended that no financial cuts should be imposed on the department at revised estimates stage for smooth implementation of the schemes, as financial cuts imposed now may lead to further addition of miseries to Indian farmers and people engaged in the agricultural sector, in the absence of timely help. The need is to achieve the targeted 4% growth rate in agriculture and allied sectors.

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