National Conference on Agriculture for Rabi Campaign 2006-07 opens
New Delhi, Sep 14 (UNI) The Government today asked the State Governments to improve the productivity of wheat and pulses saying that 'there should be a threshold level under which the production of wheat should not be allowed to go down'.
Inaugurating the National Conference on Agriculture for Rabi Campaign 2006-07, Ms Radha Singh, Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation said the temperamental weather conditions had created concern among the farming community and state governments have put in contingency plans for alternate crops.
Under the diversification programme about 2 to 3 million hectare area has gone out of rice cultivation for crops like pulses, oilseeds and cotton and the reduction in area could be matched only by high productivity.
Wheat cultivation occupies 26.5 million hectare area and the production stands around 68 to 70 million tonne in recent years; she said.
The major reasons for low productivity of wheat included delayed planting in the rice-wheat system, low seed replacement rate and low and imbalanced use of fertilisers, high cost of inputs and depleting soil health.
Ms Singh emphasised the need for using quality seed for stepping up production and urged the state governments to give more thrust to seed production and distribution to farmers through the existing seed producing agencies.
The Government had recently constituted a National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA) to address the problem faced by farmers in rainfed areas in a holistic manner under the Chairmanship of the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Power.
The authority would bring about convergence and synergy among the numerous ongoing programmes and will advise, guide and monitor their implementation as it encompasses all aspects of sustainable development of rainfed areas including appropriate farming and livelihood system approaches.
The authority with a two-tier system of representation of central and state governments as well as expert group would also set research agenda for segments particularly important for rainfed areas and disseminate knowledge to districts and rural authorities.
The Agriculture Secretary asked the state governments to make available timely credit to farming community. The disbursement of agriculture credit has been increased to about Rs 187,000 crore and banks should be persuaded to disburse farm credit at appropriate time.
The Government has finalised a package for the revival of short-term rural cooperative structure for providing financial assistance to the farm sector. State Governments should also take initiative for setting of Terminal Markets at important locations to provide competitive alternate marketing structure providing multiple choices to farmers for sale of their produce, she said.
The Terminal Markets are to function in a Hub-and-Spoke Format wherein the Terminal Market would be linked to a number of collection centres conveniently located to allow easy access to farmers for the marketing of their produce.
Ms Singh urged state governments to project the needs of agriculture sector prominently in the Eleventh Five Year Plan to get due share for irrigation and other areas concerning agriculture.
The central government has prepared a scheme for the overall development of the farm sector which was presented to the Prime Minister in a presentation recently, she added.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Mangala Rai, Secretary (DARE) and DG (ICAR) said productivity in agriculture could not be increased without increasing profitability. Attention should be given for maintaining soil health and corrective measures should be resorted to for restoring the nutrients to the soil for maximum productivity.
ICAR has been engaged with a great deal of success in developing new varieties of seeds of wheat and pulses which are resistant to pests and are suited to erratic weather conditions like global warming and untimely rains, Dr Rai said.
UNI BBS SB BD1759