Provide immediate relief to drought-affected areas: Pawar

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New Delhi, Aug 21 (ANI): Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar asked the State Agriculture Ministers on Friday to take immediate steps to provide relief to the drought affected areas.

Addressing a conference of State Agriculture Ministers here, Pawar urged them to take steps to protect the interest of small and marginal farmers.

Pawar described the situation in 246 districts across 10 states as grim, and said the state agriculture departments must gear up their machinery to ensure full support to the farmers at this critical times.

Rabi crops can be planted early and over a large area to make for the kharif losses due to a poor monsoon, Pawar explained.

"This is good opportunity to ensure wheat is sown in time particularly in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal," Pawar.

Pawar said there is an urgent need to promote alternate crops like pulses, sunflower, bajra, fodder and vegetables as the reports pointing out a shortfall in paddy sowing.

In his speech Pawar also stressed the need for sustaining the animal health, livelihood of small and marginal farmers and landless labourers.

He asked the State Governments to set up control rooms at the state capital and district headquarters to deal with drought situation.

"For the drought-affected population we should ensure availability of food, drinking water, fodder and employment. I am sure with your cooperation we would be able to tide over this crisis and regain the momentum of food grain production in the country."

Pawar also expressed concern over price rise and asked the ministers to take measures to check it. (ANI)

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