Montek Ahluwalia wants subsidies diverted to agricultural and rural infrastructure

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Amritsar, Dec. 17 (ANI): Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission of India Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Thursday emphasised that electricity and fertilizer subsidies should be diverted to agricultural and rural infrastructure to raise public investment in agriculture and strengthen its foundations.

Dr. Ahluwalia inaugurated the three-day 69th Annual Conference of Indian Society of Agricultural Economics (ISAE) being organised by Punjab School of Economics of the Guru Nanak Dev University here.

On this occasion, Ahluwalia highlighted the need for improvement in land quality, input management, improving access to water, watershed management, improved road connectivity and extension system in agriculture. He also brought out the role of structural changes in seed industry and growth of biotechnology and optimisation of crop-mixes to encourage scientifically feasible farming in the country, which can more than double the agricultural output.

He said that four percent growth rate of agriculture, as envisaged in the 11th Five Year Plan is achievable even when the country witnessed a drought this year.

Dr. Ahluwalia further stated that leasing out of land through appropriate legislation as many small and marginal farmers may wish to quit agriculture for better opportunities outside. He appreciated Indian Society of Agricultural Economics for undertaking research activities in agriculture and highlighting the problems and required priorities of agriculture.

The conference is being attended by renowned agricultural economists and policy makers 300 delegates from different parts of the country including from agricultural universities, agricultural departments of State Governments, officials from Union Ministry of Agriculture, members of Agricultural Price Commission, former Vice-Chancellors and directors of various institutions.

Dr. D.K. Marothia, the Conference President, while delivering his presidential address brought out the need for decentralisation of natural resource management in India. He emphasised that Panchyati Raj Institutions (PRIs), user associations, stake-holders and NGOs be given the property rights to manage natural resources in optimal manner. He also hinted at the effect of climatic change on agriculture and other natural resources and made an impassioned appeal to conserve the environment.

Dr. (Mrs.) Isher Judge Ahluwalia, Chairperson, Indian Council for Research in International Economic Relations, Chairperson of Committee for Urban Infrastructure and the Guest of Honour for the inaugural session, brought out the linkages between agriculture and industry in the context of Punjab State. She emphasized the need for cultivating the synergies through development of agro-processing, biotechnology and growth of rural and urban sectors.

A book tittled "Managing Rural Finance in India" edited by Dr.G.S. Kainth, Director, Guru Arjan Dev Institute of Development Studies, Amritsar was also released on the occasion. By Ravinder Singh Robin (ANI)

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