Pawar mulls subsidy for veg farms near small townships

Gharaunda (Karnal), Jan 17 (PTI) With rising food pricesbecoming a headache for the government, Union AgricultureMinister Sharad Pawar today proposed subsidy to encouragefarming of vegetables in 20-25 kilometre radius around thetownships of two-three lakhs people.

Referring to the onion issue, Pawar said the changes inclimatic conditions were responsible for the loss of crop inthe Nasik district in Maharashtra, which contributes 40 percent of the vegetable produced in the country.

The onion crop was damaged in third month owing tothe unprecedented heavy rainfall and resulted in the onionscarcity and damage, sending prices to as high as Rs 85 akilo. The government has since then adopted many measure tobring down the prices, including imports from Pakistan.

High fruits and vegetable prices pushed up foodinflation for the week ending January 1, 2011 to 16.91 percent.

He said that the farmers suffered hugely and nobodywas concerned about their loss, we need to evolve newtechnologies to avert this kind of situation.

While inaugurating Centre of Excellence for Vegetables, aIndo-Israel joint venture on agricultural cooperation, atHisar, Pawar said the state farmers had the capacity to meetthe growing vegetables and fruits'' demand in Delhi.

The minister said he would discuss this proposal to sortout the price hike problem and provide cheaper vegetables tothe masses.

Haryana is implementing two projects, one of which forvegetable at Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana AgriculturalUniversity has already become functional while the second onefor fruits is being set up at village Mangyana in districtSirsa.

Pawar''s comments come as the government struggles toprovide vegetables including onion, tomato and garlic ataffordable prices.

The government through state-owned trading agenciesPEC and STC has sought to import onion to augment domesticsupply to rein in the soaring prices of the kitchen staple.

The agencies have ordered for 1000 tonnes of onions fromPakistan to be exported through sea route, two weeks afterPakistan banned transport of onion through the land route tocombat surging prices at home.

Union Agriculture ministry has said that the firstconsignment of the vegetable is expected to reach the nationalcapital tomorrow.

The imported onions on reaching Delhi would be madeavailable on retail sale through Mother Dairy, KendriyaBhandar, Nafed and NCCF at the price of Rs 35/kg, against theprevailing rates varying around Rs 50-60 a kg. .

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