Government plans to source more horticulture crops

Written by Preeti Parashar | Chandigarh | Updated: Dec 7 2010, 05:03am hrs
The government is mulling sourcing more horticulture crops and oilseeds over rice in Punjab and Haryana owing to depleting water table in these states. This was stated by Union food and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar at the inauguration of CII Agrotech 2010 at Chandigarh on Saturday.

The move has also come at a time when the Centre holds foodgrain stocks of about 50 million tonne20.4 milion tonne of rice and 29.8 million tonne of wheat.

The government will procure wheat from these states as well, but we are considering of promoting horticulture crops and oilseeds or pulses over water consuming paddy to deal with the water depletion problem. The discussions are on but the final decision is yet to be taken, Pawar said.

He added, This, however, will be made beneficial for the farmers by assuring them higher remuneration than what they get from cultivating paddy. The state governments and farmers are to be taken in confidence before implementing this change. Under a shift in the food policy, the agriculture ministry is also promoting cultivation of paddy in the north eastern states now.

Punjab contributes 40% of paddy to the central pool with output of about 165 lakh tonne. While, Haryana which has an output of around 55 lakh tonne gives 50% of the rice kitty. Agriculture experts are of the view that by shifting to oilseeds, pulses and horticulture farmers could earn better remuneration. As per estimates ground water level in the two northern states has gone down to 100-120 feet from 50-60 feet three decades ago.

On the other hand Pawar said no decision has yet been taken on announcing any bonus over and above the MSP for wheat or paddy. We have announced additional price of Rs 5 per kg for pulses and no decision has been taken on bonus for wheat or rice, said he. He also advocated for the promotion of genetically modified food crops for fulfilling the requirement of about 65 million tonne under the national food security bill.

While commenting upon the decontrolling of sugar, Pawar said the issue will be taken up after the parliament session with the states of UP, Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh etc. He also said that the direct payment to the farmers for procurement of foodgrains in Punjab will begin from next season. Farmers are not getting direct payment, as certain groups have objected to it, he said adding, the state has been given an additional one year to implement the scheme.