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Policy boost for agri sector

Bhubaneswar, April 22: The Odisha government has revised its policy for development of the farm sector and farmers ahead of the elections.

For the first time, the animal and resources development sector has been included in the agriculture policy in view of its income-generation potential. People pursuing fisheries and animal husbandry will now be entitled to fiscal incentives.

Odisha agriculture minister Debi Prasad Mishra said the new policy would be launched on May 13 by chief minister Naveen Patnaik on the occasion of akshay trutiya, which is celebrated as “farmers day” by the state government every year.

The new policy will be effective from April 1 this year, said Mishra. The last agriculture policy was formulated in 2008. The government move assumes significance because around 70 per cent of the state depends on agriculture.

“The new policy has been prepared with greater focus on the economic well being of farmers and rural poor, rather than just on production and growth,” said the government resolution notified today.

There will be subsidy of up to 75 per cent on agricultural machinery under the new policy. Subsidy has been revised for power tillers, paddy processors and water pumps. It has also been introduced for equipment used in fisheries and the animal husbandry sector. Vegetable cultivation will also get subsidy.

Recently, the state government came out with a separate budget for farmers and the farm sector for the first time with an announcement for providing cell phones to peasants. The government admitted a decline in agricultural growth and profitability in the agriculture sector.

The state government declared its first agriculture policy in 1996, which was revised in 2008. Mishra claimed the 2008 policy had benefited farmers. More than one lakh private lift irrigation projects were established and the state saw the growth of agro-based industries. The sale of tractors increased from less than 200 in 1999-2000 to more than 5000 in 2011-12.