The Telegraph
Thursday , June 13 , 2013
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Food policy twist for funds

Patna, June 12: The state government today took a slew of decisions under the ambitious Rs 1.50-lakh-crore agriculture roadmap to herald a green revolution in the next five years.

“The agriculture cabinet, after reviewing the performance of various departments, has decided to modify the existing Food Processing Policy, 2008, in order to increase quantum of capital subsidy to support other sectors covered under the policy,” chief secretary Ashok Kumar Sinha told reporters after the meeting.

He said the existing policy had helped promote the food processing sector, especially rice mills, but a lot has to be done for other industries and that’s why a modification in the policy is required.

Sinha, who was accompanied by development commissioner A. K. Chouhan, said that the agriculture cabinet also decided to set up a sugarcane research institute in Champaran to provide better quality of seeds and increase recovery rate. No decision has been taken on where the proposed institute would come up, he said.

Sugar recovery rate is the percentage of sugar production (in tonnes) to the sugarcane crushed (in tonnee). For example, if 100 tonnes are crushed, about 9.2 tonnes are produced.

The cabinet, chaired by chief minister Nitish Kumar and attended by several ministers, including deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi and other top officials, also decided to formulate a policy to give incentives to units manufacturing agricultural implements in the state.

Sinha said that the agriculture cabinet reviewed the progress made by various departments and sectors in 2012-13 according to the agriculture roadmap plan. The chief secretary said that the cabinet expressed satisfaction for achieving 108 per cent of the target as fixed in the roadmap for 2012-13.

According to the agriculture roadmap, Rs 8687.82 crore was to be spent on agriculture and related departments in 2012-13. Against this, the government spent Rs 9,434.55 crore, which is 108.60 per cent of the target, Sinha said.

Stating that physical verification was made to check ground realities, Sinha said that people used the Systematic Root Intensification (SRI) technique for carrying out wheat and paddy farming to increase productivity.

Three lakh acres were targeted for wheat farming with SRI technique, but it was carried out in 2.24 lakh acres. Similarly, the government achieved the target of carrying out rice cultivation through SRI technique in 3.5 lakh acres in 2012-13, Sinha said.

Foodgrain production also witnessed a major boost with the implementation of programmes and schemes under the roadmap. According to the third estimate of the directorate of statistics and evaluations, foodgrain production is likely to touch 174.06 lakh tonnes despite the irregular monsoon in 2012-13, the chief secretary said.

The cabinet had on April 3, 2012, approved a whopping Rs 1.50 lakh crore for the agriculture roadmap, which targets to almost double foodgrain production in the next five years, with a special thrust on agriculture education — that would be imparted right from high school-level. President Pranab Mukherjee had formally launched the roadmap in Patna on October 3, 2012.

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