The Uttarakhand government’s new agriculture policy appears to have been put on the back burner.
Earlier, there was hope that the new policy would be declared after the Lok Sabha elections this year. But there is still no hope of any new announcement on the policy. Agriculture Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat also conceded it would take some time before the policy could be declared.
As of now, the agriculture department had invited inputs from its related departments on the policy in order to make it more result-oriented, said Rawat. With the land for SEZ and other industrial projects falling short, the Uttarakhand government’s new agriculture draft policy is focusing on the Special Agriculture Zones (SAZs) with an emphasis on integrated farming.
Under an SAZ, the government has proposed setting up of self-employment industrial units (SEIUs) like fisheries, tea gardens, dairy farming and various other agriculture and horticulture activities. "Through SAZs, we are trying to protect our agriculture land and bring food security," said Rawat.
The draft of the agri-policy clearly stated that there should be no industrialisation on agriculture land in Uttarakhand, he said.
Rawat has proposed that farmland should not be used for industrialisation and instead the government should utilise non-agriculture and non-cultivated agriculture land for this purpose. Rawat said nearly 3.12 lakh hectare of non-agriculture and 3.83 lakh of non-cultivated agriculture land was available in the hill state.
A committee comprising agriculture scientists, mainly from Pantnagar Agriculture University, finalised the new agri-draft, which clearly states that there should be no industrialisation and development of SEZ projects on agriculture land as a large chunk of agri-land has fallen into the hands of land builders and industrialists in Uttarakhand in the past few years. But later, the policy was re-drafted to carry out certain amendments on the instructions of CM B C Khanduri as well as Rawat. The main highlight of the new policy is that the government would now develop SAZs to protect the fertile land. "We want to protect our agriculture, for which we want to bring SAZ in Uttarakhand," said Rawat.