Indian Agrarian Crisis now moved to

Farmer-the most endangered species

Centre serious about implementing Swaminathan report

Posted by Ramoo on March 11, 2007…

S. Rajendran

Agriculture Minister Pawar says it has been sent to the Ministries concerned for their views

Sharad Pawar

BANGALORE: Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Saturday said the Centre was serious about implementing the recommendations of the National Commission on Agriculture headed by M.S. Swaminathan.

He told The Hindu here that the voluminous report had been sent to the Ministries concerned, asking them to give their feedback in quick time. “Thereafter, I will place the report, with the views of the various Ministries, before the Cabinet for approval. I am confident that this exercise will be completed in about three months. We are privileged that an international agriculture scientist of repute headed the commission and the recommendations are highly valuable”.

Mr. Pawar, who is on a two-day trip to Bangalore, said the five-volume report had been sent to the Ministries of Rural Development, Water Resources, Forests, Rural Electrification, Finance, Planning and Women and Child Welfare.

Appreciative of the commission’s findings, he said all importance would be given to the recommendations.

His Ministry was now laying stress on increasing the area under irrigation, providing quality seeds to farmers, ensuring availability of agricultural credit at reasonable rates of interest, enhancing post-harvest facilities including agro-processing, development of cold storages and remunerative prices for all produce.

On sugar production in the current year, Mr. Pawar said he would draw the Cabinet’s attention to surplus availability of about 90 lakh tonnes and the need to open up exports. The production this year was expected to be about 240 lakh tonnes and with last year’s buffer of 40-lakh tonnes, the total availability would be around 280 lakh tonnes compared to the country’s requirement of 180-190 lakh tonnes. “We have no choice but to export around 90 lakh tonnes.” The major sugar-producing States were Uttar Pradesh (90 lakh tonnes), Maharashtra (75 lakh tonnes) and Karnataka (25 lakh tonnes). The others were Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

On the incidence of suicide by farmers, Mr. Pawar said that according to the latest reports from the vulnerable States of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala, there was a drop in the number of suicides following the implementation of schemes for the benefit of farmers.

The Union Government was closely monitoring the situation.

The first part of the financial package granted to 32 districts in the four States related to waiver of interest on all farm loans and was totally implemented.

Further, the loans taken by farmers from private financiers were transferred to commercial banks.

Of the total of about 1.20 lakh suicides reported in the country every year, around 16,000 cases involved farmers (around 11 per cent).

The suicides were not merely a fallout of crop failure. There were also those who had obtained loans for other reasons and committed suicide unable to repay.

The second part of the package, relating to stepping up irrigation facilities in the 32 districts, would be implemented shortly.

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