Farm sector gets a Rs 25,000-cr booster dose

New Delhi, May 29 | Updated: May 30 2007, 05:30am hrs
To boost the countrys ailing farm sector, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday announced a Rs 25,000-crore investment plan, to be executed over the next four years, While making his concluding remarks at the 53rd meeting of the National Development Council (NDC), Singh said, The Centre will commit funds if states maintain their baseline levels of expenditure. This will ensure greater public investment in agriculture.

This move comes as the countrys agriculture sector, which employs over 60% of the population and accounts for 18.4% of GDP, has been stagnating due to low investment, yields, lack of credit inflow and faulty infrastructure. The sector grew at 1.8% during the Tenth Five Year Plan, against the targeted 4%. The government has set a 4% growth target for the sector for the Eleventh Plan period.

Prime Minister also said that the Planning Commission and the agriculture ministry would finalise details of this programme in the next two months.

The government is also worried over the low growth in the farm sector and stagnating food production. It has attributed the supply- side constrains in the farm sector as one of the main reason for spiraling prices of essential commodities.

The new plan seeks to encourage states to come up with localised solutions for problems faced by the agri-sector. Besides, a Food Security Mission would be announced to raise the production of wheat, rice and pulses and reduce the countrys dependence on imports of basic commodities, he said.

Greener Future

Agriculture sector employs over 60% of the population and accounts for 18.4% of GDP
The sector grew at 1.8% during the Tenth Five Year Plan, against the targeted 4%
The agriculture ministry would finalise details of this programme in the next two months

The funds will be released to the states on the basis of their comprehensive plans taking into account issues like agro-climatic conditions, natural resources and technological expertise of the states. The plans should also include livestock, poultry and fisheries. The state can initially draw up district level plans on the basis of which the state level plans can be prepared. The Centre has emphasised on state specific plans to address area specific issues in the ailing farm sector and also so that no area in the agriculture and allied sector remain unattended.

The idea of asking the states to evolve their own plans is also to give more flexibility to the states to design their own strategy and ask the Centre for funds which they can use as per their precise needs.

The ACA will be operated by the Agriculture ministry and the money will be given over and above the existing centrally sponsored scheme funds to supplement state-specific strategies including special schemes for beneficiaries of land reforms.