New Delhi, Mar 6 (IBNS) The National Conference for evolving the strategy for maximising kharif production began here on Wednesday with a call by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to concentrate on consolidating the gains made in the 11th Plan and get equipped to face the new and emerging challenges.
Pawar highlighted the fact that the annual growth rate for agriculture and allied sector during the 11th Plan jumped to 3.64% from 2.5% in the Ninth Plan and 2.4% in the Tenth Plan.
This growth was achieved in spite of a drought year in 2009-10 and drought-like conditions in some parts of the country during 2010-11, he said.
The Minister also expressed satisfaction at the achievements of flagship programmes such as National Food Security Mission (NFSM), National Horticulture Mission and Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India.
He said, "Against a target of an additional production of 20 million tonnes of foodgrains, NFSM was able to achieve 42.04 million tonnes of additional production of foodgrains (from 217.28 million tonnes in pre-NFSM year of 2006-07 to 259.32 million tonnes in 2011-12). Horticulture production has recorded an average annual growth rate of 5.5% during the 11th Plan."
"We must ensure that NFSM not only continues to ensure food security through enhanced foodgrain production but also helps in ensuring protein requirements through enhanced pulse production. Simultaneously, efforts for bridging yield gaps in low productivity areas like the eastern States and rainfed areas have to be made on a bigger scale.," said Pawar.
"It gave me immense joy when I learnt that against an average production of 42.60 million tonnes of rice in the 7 eastern states of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Eastern Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal prior to launch of BGREI, the production increased to 46.97 million tonnes in 2010-11, 55.27 million tonnes in 2011-12, and 55.62 million tonnes in 2012-13.
"This means that these eastern States are now contributing to more than 50% of the country's total rice production and thus the efforts in ushering green revolution in this region has taken strong roots. I congratulate the officials of these states present here for this outstanding performance and urge them to aim at attaining greater heights."
The Minister said that time had come to go beyond East to the North East India.
"We have already covered all states of North East India under NFSM-RICE and the results are encouraging. The potential of this area for horticulture plantation and other commercial plantation such as rubber, oil palm etc need to be explored.
"I would like to appeal to the officials from these States to come forward and use the flexibility offered by RKVY to the fullest possible. My ministry officials will always be ready to provide any guidance or assistance required," he said.
The Minister also expressed the hope that a number of provisions made in the Union Budget for agriculture will support this sector well.
He made special mention of the higher allocation for agriculture, setting the target of agricultural credit to Rs. 7 lakh crore, and allocations for crop diversification, farmer producer organisations and the National Livestock Mission.
The conference is being attended by senior officers of state agriculture departments, representatives of different Union ministries and Planning Commission, experts and scientists from ICAR, other research institutes and crop directorates.