Rabi Conf opens with expectations of a higher foodgrain output

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New Delhi, Sept 24 (UNI) The National Conference on Agriculture for Rabi Campaign-2008 opened here today with a positive outlook for the ensuing winter crop season as the satisfactory monsoon rains, especially in August-September, will prove helpful in providing moisture in the soil for rabi crops.

Inaugurating the Conference, Agriculture Secretary T Nanda Kumar expressed confidence that it would be possible to make up for the losses in the current kharif season, which have occurred due to deficient rains and floods in some areas.

''We have lost about 20 lakh hectares in kharif season, which we can make up in rabi,'' he said.

Mr Kumar called upon the State Agriculture Secretaries and Agriculture Production Commissioners to take timely action to make the best use of the favourable climatic conditions.

He also asked the States to ensure availability of fertilizers and other inputs well before the start of sowing of rabi crops.

On the steps being taken at the central level, he said, ''Availability of fertilisers has emerged as a problem area in some States and is being monitored constantly. Steps are being taken to ensure adequate availability of fertilizers. Adequate quantity of seed is available and there should be no problem on that front.'' He felt that the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana has accorded a great deal of flexibility to States to choose schemes as per their requirements. However, the District Agriculture Plans should be made cohesive and should converge all possible resources, he stressed.

State Agriculture Universities, Krishi Vigyan Kendras etc should be involved in formulation of these Plans. Allied sector activities like animal husbandry and dairying should be given due importance he said.

As far as the National Food Security Mission is concerned, intensive district-wise monitoring is required, he said and added that to derive optimum benefits from the National Horticulture Mission, post-harvest and marketing infrastructure should be given focussed attention.

The Conference was also addressed by Secretary, Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Pradeep Kumar, who called for drawing up animal husbandry schemes using RKVY funds, and bringing fodder crops in mainstream cropping systems.

Over two days, the conference will come out with a well-coordinated strategy for the rabi season, taking inputs from States, farm scientists and different Ministries and Departments.

Detailed advisories on various aspects will also be issued to States. The first advance estimates of crop production will also be firmed up and released after the Conference.

The annual conference is held primarily to coordinate the strategy to maximise crop production in the winter cropping season.

All State governments, ICAR and concerned Departments and organisations of the Union government participate in the conference.

The major cereals grown during the rabi season are wheat, barley, rabi rice and rabi jowar. These crops together contribute about 89 per cent of the food grain produced during the rabi season. After consultation with State governments, targets for these crops have been fixed for the coming season. These have been kept higher than the last rabi, which set a production record for many crops. The production estimates and targets for these crops are as follows: (million tones) Crop 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08* 2008-09-Target Wheat 68.64 69.35 75.81 78.40 78.50 Barley 1.20 1.22 1.33 1.23 1.50 Rice 10.90 13.52 12.65 13.62 14.00 Jowar 3.20 3.56 3.44 3.64 3.90 *Fourth Advance Estimates.

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