New agri-business policy will put Gujarat on national map

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Gandhinagar, Oct 18: Gujarat agriculture minister Dilip Sanghani today said the new agri-business policy-2008 seeks to change the gear of the agri-business in the state and make it a national center for the agri-business before 2015.

The Policy, which is expected to be announced in a month, has a special focus on promoting agricultural development and creating opportunities in rural areas.

Mr Sanghani told UNI that the main thrust of agri-business policy is to attract investments in the sector and to ensure that the farmers get affordable prices for their produce and increase the employment opportunities in rural areas.

He said ''Agri-business policy seeks to revamp agriculture. More and more farmers are looking for other avenues of income because of the problems like irregular rains and lack of appropriate finance to address losses. Government will take all necessary steps including offering incentives to increase efficiency and productivity of small and medium enterprises.'' The draft policy is devised in association with Gujarat Agro Industries Corporation (GAIC). The government is also considering creation of the Cluster Advisory Institute (CAI) to speed up cluster development. This institute will help address the issues of sick units.

Mr Sanghani said on the basis of the new policy, the agriculture deparment intends to attract big investments in agriculture and food processing sector during the 'Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit-2009', which is scheduled to be held in January next year. According to the primary draft, the state government plans to come out with a technology acquisition scheme for SME units. It will give 50 per cent grant for acquiring technology.

The maximum grant amount for acquisition of technology would be up to Rs one crore. For energy and water conservation, the policy is likely to give 20 per cent of the equipment cost, subject to maximum limit of Rs 10 lakh.

The minister pointed out that the agriculture prodcution in the state has jumped from Rs 9,000 crore in 2001-02 to Rs 34,000 crore in 2006-07 due to agri-festival being organised by Gujrat government for last four years.

The festival, which lasts a month, is organised before the begining of monsoon season every year. The idea is to provide the farmers of the state the information about the latest developments in agriculture.

Mr Sanghani said because of this, the farmers have been able to double and sometimes triple their output. However, there is a lack of primary value addition and post-harvest infrastructure at farms.

The agriculture ministry officials say the government wants to give a major thrust to research and development in agriculture sector, which was given no importance for long.

UNI

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