CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu has set an ambitious foodgrains production target of 120 lakh tonnes for the coming financial year despite the damage to crops due to the Cyclone Thane and floods this year. The budget estimates that foodgrains production will be 105 lakh tonnes during 2011-12 as against a projected 115 lakh tonnes.
However, former Union revenue secretary and finance secretary to the Madhya Pradesh government, M R Sivaraman told TOI that the projected 15% jump in foodgrains production would be a tall order.
While the budget has provided 500 crore for the system of Serial Rice Intensification (SRI) to cover an extended area of 27.55 lakh acres, there is a problem as a large workforce would be required to work in the fields, he pointed out.
This is because many of these farm hands may prefer to take up work under the more remunerative MNREGA scheme and marginal farmers would find it tough to get labour. Carrying this logic further, a similar problem could dog the measure to improve production of pulses under the system of Serial Pulses Intensification ( SPI) proposed to be implemented in 1.6 lakh acres based on the ‘Whole Village Concept’.
Armed with a vision of chief minister J Jayalalithaa to usher in a second green revolution, the budget has made highest ever allocation of 3,804.96 crore for agriculture. An Agri-Market Intelligence and Business Promotion Centre is to be established at Trichy during 2012-13 to disseminate information on prices and render crop and market advisory services to farmers. The budget has set a target of 10 lakh farmers to be covered under agricultural insurance and 200 crore is allocated to ensure that farmers get more remuneration over and above the minimum support price. The government is providing 100% subsidy for small and marginal farmers and 75% subsidy for others for installing micro-irrigation systems. The Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative Programme will be implemented in 15,000 acres.
An enhanced area of 1,73,000 acres would be covered during 2012-13 under micro-irrigation for which 75 crore is granted as subsidy. A new system of disbursing subsidy directly to farmers will be introduced.
Farmers would continue to be exempted from VAT on fertilizers and the present interest-free loan to Tamil Nadu Cooperative Marketing Federation Ltd (TANFED) to procure and distribute fertilizers would be enhanced to 150 crore.
“The budget is silent on establishing an organic mission for Tamil Nadu which will encourage best agricultural practices to safeguard the interests of small and marginal farmers,” said V R Ananthoo of Safe Food Alliance.