Foodgrain Production Reaches Record 241.6 Million Tonnes
Target for 2011-12 Set at 245 Million Tonnes;
Agriculture Minister Confident of Surpassing IT
2-Day National Conference for Rabi Campaign begins
Agriculture Minister Shri Sharad Pawar today announced that, as per the latest crop estimates, the foodgrain production in 2010-11 reached a record level of 241.6 million tonnes. Among crops, record production was achieved in the case of wheat, pulses, oil seeds and cotton.
Elaborating the farm growth further, the Minister stated that during the quarter ending March 31 this year, farm output achieved an impressive growth rate of 7.5 per cent. On a yearly basis, Agriculture and Allied Sector grew at 6.6% in the last fiscal. The minister expressed the hope that the country would be able to achieve targeted 4% growth in agriculture.
Addressing senior officers from the centre and all the states who have gathered here to chalk out a strategy for the ensuing rabi cropping season, Shri Pawar said that “the monsoon this year has been very encouraging so far, with timely and widespread rain all over the country. Good rainfall is resulting in increased soil moisture which together with adequate water availability in reservoirs across the country is definitely going to provide necessary impetus for substantial expansion in area and enhancing production during ensuing Rabi season.”
Stressing the need for constantly improving farm productivity , the Minister informed that the production target of foodgrains for year 2011-12 has been fixed at 245 million tonnes. He also expressed the hope that, looking at the performance in the recent past, the target would be surpassed.
On the need to face the challenges before Indian agriculture with concerted efforts, the Minister said: “There will be more competitive demand on land and water, progressive fragmentation of land holdings, degrading natural resource base and emerging concerns of climate change. We also have to look for sustaining agricultural growth against the backdrop of limited availability of natural resources especially cultivable land. Thus, increase in agricultural production would have to emanate only by enhancement in farm productivity from existing cultivated area.
“Low productivity still remains a major concern for Indian agriculture. While our yields compare poorly to global average, we also have significant yield gap between the ‘optimal’ yield and actual field productivity. There is also large difference in crop yields across states and regions. Low farm productivity often results in cascading effect on the farmers both in terms of increasing cost of production and less farm remuneration.
“Enhancement of agricultural productivity can come from deploying location-specific high yielding crop varieties, balanced fertiliser doses, effective transfer of technology, increasing water use efficiency, timely supply of quality inputs, and capacity building through extensive agricultural extension. Towards this direction, this Ministry is implementing various developmental schemes to cater to the needs of farming community. Flagship schemes like Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), National Food Security Mission (NFSM), National Horticulture Mission (NHM) etc. have already been instrumental in enhancing farm productivity and increasing crop production.
“Seed is critical input for long-term sustained growth of agriculture. In India, more than four-fifths of farmers rely on farm-saved seeds, resulting in low production and seed replacement rate and Government is seized of this issue and addressing the same, through various programmes/schemes. The focus has to be on increasing the Seed Replacement Rate, introducing better high yielding varieties, strengthening of infrastructure facilities for production and distribution of quality seeds and taking up more and more villages under the Seed Villages Programme.
“We have also launched several new initiatives in recent years to realign our effort in this direction. While ‘Bringing green Revolution to the eastern region’ scheme aims at improving productivity of rice based cropping system in selected states, ‘Integrated development of 60,000 pulse villages in rainfed areas’ is focussing at attaining self sufficiency in production of pulses. Five more initiatives have been launched pursuant to Union Budget-2011-12 for enhancing availability of fodder, vegetables, nutria-cereals, oil palm and protein supplements.
“However, we have to be more vigilant in ensuring that advantages gained so far are sustained in future too. During this kharif season, although higher area coverage is being witnessed in Rice, Oilseeds and Cotton crops, there is a decreasing trend in both Pulses and Coarse Cereals. I would like to urge upon the States to take a note of this situation.
“Soil health is crucial for ensuring farm productivity. However, over the years marginal productivity of soil has been witnessing a declining trend. Thus, high priority needs to be accorded to soil health and nutrient management. While nutrient management primarily focus on bringing back soil fertility, ecological sustainability and overall cost effectiveness also needs equal attention. Adoption of multi-nutrient carriers that are soil and crops specific and customised on the basis of soil testing is emerging as a viable alternative to conventional approach. Besides, organic nutrient sources like farm yard manure, crop residue, vermi compost, bio fertilisers, green manure etc. can also play a key role in adopting eco-friendly agriculture.
“Minimum Support Prices (MSP) is an effective instrument for ensuring remunerative prices to farmers. Besides, to protect growers from distress sale in event of bumper crop of agricultural and horticultural commodities, which are generally perishable, Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) is also being implemented in some States. However, I am finding that in many States, MSP and MIS are not implemented to their optimal level. I would urge upon the States and Union Territories to take full benefit of MSP and MIS so that farmers are not deprived of remunerative prices.
“This Ministry has been emphasising on sustaining agricultural growth through mobilization of higher investment in agriculture, augmenting and bridging yield gaps, enhancing farm income, ensuring livelihoods and providing safety net to the farmers. However, one size fits all policy may not be of much help. Thus, I would again urge upon the States to launch special initiatives for boosting development of agriculture and allied sector taking into account their respective agro-climatic conditions. Finally, we have to ensure that agriculture emerges and remains as a remunerative profession on a sustainable basis to rural communities.”
The Agriculture Minister also reiterated the government’s resolve to bring down prices of food commodities. “We must, therefore, ensure that efforts to increase production and productivity is a continuum and not a one-time exercise. India as a nation cannot afford to rest till we have successfully bridged the productivity gap between us and the rest of the world,” the Minister said.
The minister also released the first advance estimates of crop production for 2011-12.
The two-day National Conference for Rabi Campaign 2011 will come out with a detailed crop and area specific strategy for the rabi season after deliberation among officials from all states and the Centre and experts from ICAR and various research institutions. Besides Agriculture Minister, MOS Shri Harish Rawat and Secretary (Agriculture and Cooperation), Shri P.K. Basu also addressed the Conference.