Govt launches food security mission for wheat, rice and pulses

New Delhi, May 29 | Updated: May 30 2007, 05:30am hrs
Aimed at ensuring sustainable levels of food, the government on Tuesday announced the launch of a food security mission covering wheat, rice and pulses. The mission, to be covered under a central scheme, will endeavor to produce an additional eight million tonnes of wheat, 10 million tonne of rice and two million tonnes of pulses.

The decision was taken at the meeting of the National Development Council (NDC) on Tuesday, which discussed the issue of food grains shortage faced by the country. Production of food grains have constantly depleted since 1991-95. After reaching a high of 207 kg per person per year (PPPY) during the period, availability of food grain decelerated to186 kg PPPY during 2004-07. In an attempt to reverse the deceleration in the crucial farm sector which has recorded just 1.8% growth against the targeted 4% in the Tenth Plan, the Centre, at the NDC meet, also decided to provide additional resources for irrigation projects through the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP). The funds will be given for use of modern techniques in irrigation methods and adoption of improved participatory irrigation management and command area development.

Giving an impetus to agriculture research, additional resources will be provided for National Strategic Research Fund. The fund will be given a governance and implementation structure appropriate to fund universities, CSIR labs and private institutions besides ICAR. Added funds will be handed out to support regionally focused research projects in state agriculture universities. The Centre and the states have agreed to undertake the initiatives in an attempt to achieve the targeted 4% growth in the sector in the Eleventh Plan.

The Centre also plans to restructure the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) funding by NABARD and replace the present pattern of year by year fund allocation by state-wise indicative allocations for the entire Eleventh Plan which will keep in mind the needs of states with low rural credit deposit ratios.

Steps will also be taken to restructure fertiliser subsidy and its delivery to farmers and shift to a system that provides balanced plant nutrition. Initiatives will be taken for skill development in the farming communities including training of farmers in modern methods of agriculture.

The states on their part will formulate district plans fully utilising the available resources from all existing schemes, including district level resources from schemes like Backward Regions Grants Fund and National Rural Employment Guarantee programme. Based on these district plans the states will have to prepare state agricultural plans aimed at achieving the state agri growth objectives.

The states will also make special efforts to complete all projects taken under the AIBP without time and cost overruns. Accord highest priority to seed production to ensure adequate supply of quality seeds and enhance agri production.

They will also have to expedite the implementation of the Vaidyanathan Committee recommendations, sign MoUs if necessary and set monitorable deadlines to revamp the cooperative credit structure and ensure credit to farmers.