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Agriculture not shining, says NDA
April 16, 2004 15:15 IST
Last Updated: April 16, 2004 15:39 IST
Indian agriculture is definitely not shining going by the National Democratic Alliance government's own assessment of the plight of the farmers and state of the farm sector.
The macro-level successes like increase in agriculture production conceal many harsh ground realities with regards to agriculture development, NDA government's background 'paper' on setting up a national commission on farmers has said.
In fact the 'paper' justifies the decision to set up an NCF on grounds of the need to solve the existing manifold problems of the farmers.
"There are still huge gaps (in agriculture), especially the multidimensional problems of the farmers," it said, adding that small and marginal farmers are handicapped by their low ability to invest, low access to credit, modern technical inputs, market and other infrastructure.
In several regions the yields of cereal crops have been stagnating in recent years at about a tonne or less per hectare, the paper admitted.
It said the yields of oilseeds, pulses and fibres have been stagnating at low levels in almost all the regions.
Indicating the large extent to which agriculture is at the mercy of the monsoon, it said about 60 per cent of the country's cropped area is still not irrigated.
In a candid admission, it said problems of poverty and malnutrition continue to affect small and marginal farmers as well as landless labourers.
Painting a grim picture of the agri-sector, the government set up an NCF earlier this year.
The NDA paper said in the absence of comprehensive price and market support, small and marginal farmers often resort to distress sale of their produce.
As in other sectors of the economy, agriculture too suffers from gender discrimination.
Subsidies on power, irrigation and fertilisers, amongst others, have created disincentives for efficient use of scarce agricultural resources.
The government did appoint a National Commission on Agriculture in 1970 under the Chairmanship of Nathu Ram Mirdha to comprehensively examine the status and progress of agriculture since independence and make recommendations for improvement and modernisation of agriculture.
Its report was submitted six years later in 1976 and implementation of several of its recommendations has helped achieving sufficiency in the production of foodgrains but gaps remain, it said.
The NCF has now been set up to identify factors responsible for imbalances and disparities in the sector and suggest measures for achieving sustainable and equitable agricultural development.
The commission has been asked to recommend appropriate policies and programmes to ensure the sector alleviates poverty and imparts viability and attractiveness to farming as a remunerative and rewarding profession.
Headed by Sompal, a former Union Agriculture Minister, NCF is to submit its report in two years.
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