Diversification key to farm exports

New Delhi, Feb 25 | Updated: Feb 26 2005, 06:07am hrs
The Union finance minister P Chidambaram in his Budget speech on Monday is slated to outline the details of the National Horticulture Mission. The government has decided to declare horticulture as a major thrust area.

The President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam in his address to Parliament on Friday said, This initiative...has the potential of transforming the rural landscape and also our export profile of agricultural products. The presidential address, which came a couple of days before Budget presentation, is a reflection of governments intentions and policies.

The Economic Survey 2004-05 suggested to the government to go for higher public investment in supportive infrastructure for irrigation, roads, electrification and agricultural extension and research. With these investments, diversification of the rural economy beyond not only cereals but also agriculture appears feasible. The vibrancy of agricultural exports observed in recent years can get a fillip from such investments coupled with a stable policy towards farm trade.

Given the compulsions of fiscal consideration, the choice is between subsidy for price support to crops, fertilizer, irrigation and power, on the one hand, and higher public investment in supportive infrastructure for irrigation, roads, electrification, agricultural extension and research, on the other, the survey said. The presidential address also stressed the need for scaling up investment in rural infrastructure and agricultural research.

Pleading the case of farm diversification the Survey noted that horticulture consisting of fruits, vegetables, spices, floriculture and coconuts together with livestock, poultry and fisheries contribute more than 60% of GDP from agriculture and allied sector.