In anticipation of a normal monsoon, Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh on Tuesday said foodgrain production is expected to increase sharply next year, which would boost the agricultural sector.
“We anticipate a significant increase in foodgrain production in 2016-17 because of expectation of normal monsoon. This would ensure that the country achieve better agricultural growth,” Singh said at a press meet to highlight the achievements of his ministry in the last two years. The agriculture ministry recently has set ambitious target of a record 270.10 million tonnes (mt) of foodgrains production for 2016-17. Earlier mainly attributed to normal monsoon rains, the country achieved a record foodgrain output of 265 mt in 2013-14.
However, despite two consecutive years of deficit monsoon in 2015 and 2016, the food grain production in 2015-16 was estimated at 252.2 mt, compared with 252 MT in 2014-15. “Due to several policy measures taken to support farmers in the last couple of years have resulted in moderate fall in foodgrains production despite consecutive years of deficit monsoon,” Singh said.
GM crop approval
On allowing genetically-modified (GM) crops for commercial cultivation, Singh said that its the mandate of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) under the environment ministry to give approval. “We will go by the approval of the GEAC in this regard,” he said.However, he said that in order to safeguard the interests of the cotton farmers, the agriculture ministry had issued the Cotton Seed Price (Control) Order last year to regulate Bt cotton seed prices.
“As there was no uniformity in pricing of Bt cotton seeds across the country, the central government had intervened and fixed a uniform price of R800 per packet for Bt cotton seed across the states,” Singh said. However, he admitted that the agriculture ministry had to withdraw a notification on capping royalty for new GM traits as it was issued without much consultation. “We have put the notification in public domain for next 90 days for taking views from various stakeholders,” Singh noted.