Saturday, September 17, 2011

The two-day National Conference on Agriculture for Rabi Campaign 2011 concluded with a resolve to accord high priority to enhancing production of food grains in the next rabi season to achieve food grain production target of 245 million tonnes. The conference reviewed production prospects during current Kharif season and strategy for the ensuing Rabi season.

The conference sought cooperation of States in proper implementation of the new programmes/initiatives taken by the Ministry of Agriculture to improve the productivity of various crops. To bridge the gaps in productivity levels of different States, the conference suggested adoption of location-specific high yielding crop varieties, balanced use of fertilizers, effective transfer of technology, timely supply of quality inputs, increasing water use efficiency etc. through extensive agriculture extension programmes.

Expressing concern on the reports of fertilizers continuing to be sold above MRP, it urged States to exercise utmost vigilance to prevent smuggling of fertilizers. It also called upon the States to take proactive measures for infrastructure development in agriculture, diversification, reducing post-harvest losses, adoption of new techniques to maximize production and profitability of agriculture sector.

The conference advised the States to specially concentrate on critical areas such as availability of credit to farmers, soil testing/soil health cards, control of pest and diseases and the special schemes like ‘Bringing Green Revolution in the Eastern States’ scheme on millet, rainfed areas, fodder, vegetables, pulses and oilseeds to achieve the targeted production.

Representatives from Bihar, Gujarat, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka also shared their experiences on the special initiatives and best practices in the agriculture sector for the benefit of other States.

In the interactive session with the ICAR, a number of state-specific issues related to availability of quality seeds, increasing production of hybrid seeds, procurement of agricultural machinery through KVKs/State Agricultural Universities, preparation and dissemination of scientific practices on organic farming came up for discussion. The issues regarding promotion of GM Foods/Crops, optimum level of fertilizers doses, problems of pests and diseases faced by States, impediments in procurement of hybrid rice by FCI also figured in the discussion.

In the interactive session with senior officers from Department of Fertilizers, the requirement, availability and distribution issues were discussed. Secretary, Department of Fertilizers assured that despite global shortage all efforts would be made to maintain supply of fertilizers at the last year’s level and provide the required quantities to the farmers across various States.

The performance, targets, strategies and new initiatives of States in the agriculture sector were discussed in detail by the four Working Groups chaired by Senior officials of Department of Agriculture and Cooperation. The problems of inadequate market infrastructure and low level of credit flow in the farm sector particularly among the States in the eastern region were also discussed in the conference.

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