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KCR’s blueprint for betterment of farming sector

Hyderabad: Laying out a virtual blueprint to pull the farming sector in the country out of distress, Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao on Sunday made a strong pitch for various measures including division of the country into crop colonies for specific crops based on agro-climatic regions to achieve the objective of doubling farmers’ income in five years.

Speaking at the third meeting of the Governing Council of Niti Aayog in New Delhi, the Chief Minister, who listed out critical areas in agriculture that needed looking into, said crop colonies would ensure Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farmers and prevent avoidable glut of certain commodities in the market. Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the meeting with Chief Ministers of various States in attendance.

Rao pointed out that while agriculture production had gone up in the country, productivity had not increased for most crops. “For this purpose, continuous research and development is required and the Central government should support research through institutions in various States,” he said.

Stating that the Telangana State government had initiated several measures to address agrarian distress, the Chief Minister said vulnerability of the farm sector had to be minimised through various measures. “Expeditious completion of all ongoing irrigation projects by providing required support to State governments, supply of adequate and quality power to the farm sector at affordable rates and bringing in reforms in the existing insurance schemes by removing the present operational difficulties are some key factors towards achieving this objective,” he said.

Listing out the various measures required to lift the farm sector, the Chief Minister said a thorough review of import of foodgrains, oil seeds, oil products, textile, among others was essential to ensure that the produce of the country does not have to face undue extraneous competition or market manipulation. “Agro-based industries must be encouraged pro-actively to facilitate value addition and enhancement of farmers’ income,” he said, adding that activities supporting agriculture in allied sectors such as dairy, sheep rearing, fisheries, poultry and farm forestry should be exempted from the purview of Income Tax as these play a significant role in providing supplemental income to the farming community.

Besides, the Union Government enacted the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016, and notified the same as Central Act No. 38 of 2016 on August 3, 2016, he said. “It is understood that the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change is in the process of framing rules and accounting procedures for effective utilisation of CAMPA funds. The process of consultation and drafting rules is taking unduly long time, leading to inordinate delays in release and utilisation of funds,” the Chief Minister pointed out.

Rao, stating that there was a hue and cry among farmers due to the scarcity of labour force in agricultural operations, said there was an urgent need to dovetail MGNREGA to agricultural operations by including in under the permitted activities of MGNREGA. “This is essential to make MGNREGA more useful and productive to the agricultural operations,” he said, and suggested that 50 per cent of unskilled wages may be paid under MGNREGA and 50 per cent by farmers concerned.

“It will not only help farmers in timely agricultural operations, but also help ensure employment to the weaker sections of the society. This may be extended to States that opt for this,” the Chief Minister said.

The Telangana government, as part of its efforts to revive the farm sector in the State and also to revamp the rural economy, was encouraging traditional activities such as, sheep-rearing, fisheries, dairy, among other activities, he said. “Outstanding agricultural loan of Rs.17,000 crore was waived in four instalments, benefitting more than 35 lakh farmers in the State. In addition to this, we recently announced an innovative scheme to provide investment assistance of Rs 4,000 per acre for the two crop seasons towards purchase of inputs such as, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and labour costs, which will benefit 55 lakh farmers cultivating over 1.50 crore acres in the State,” he said.

The Chief Minister said this will go a long way to revive the agriculture sector and help farmers to come out of the vicious cycle of debt trap. “The Union Government should support such initiatives taken by State Governments to address the present agrarian distress,” he said.

The post KCR’s blueprint for betterment of farming sector appeared first on Telangana Today.

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