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National Conference on Agriculture for Kharif Campaign-2016

NEW DELHI: The National Conference on Agriculture for Kharif Campaign-2016 was organized on 11th and 12th April, 2016 at NASC Complex, Pusa, New Delhi. The Conference was inaugurated by  Radha Mohan Singh, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare and also addressed by Dr. Sanjeev Balyan, Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. The Conference was chaired by Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare. Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries and DG (ICAR) & Secretary, Department of Agriculture Research & Education (DARE) also addressed the Conference. The two-days Conference was attended by Agriculture Production Commissioners/Principal Secretaries/ Secretaries (Agriculture) of the Department of Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry & Dairying and Agriculture Marketing & Cooperation from State Governments, Senior Scientists from ICAR, Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE) and officials from Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW), D/o Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, D/o Fertilizers, NITI AYOG, RBI amongst others.

In his inaugural address, Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare stressed that the current year’s Kharif Conference gains special significance in the backdrop two consecutive droughts the country has suffered and the Government’s commitment to double the income of farmers by the year 2022. He stated that the country is now geared up to handle erratic rainfall situations. In this context he highlighted that despite high rainfall deficiency of 14% and 12% during the preceding last year, total production of foodgrains in the country during 2015-16 is estimated to be marginally higher at 253.16 MT as against 252.02 MT produced during 2014-15. He mentioned that given the vagaries of weather etc., the target of doubling farmers income in the next six years would not be achievable from crop production alone and would require a comprehensive strategy of integrated farming involving all the allied sectors of agriculture including Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries. As water is a critical resource, the present budget has brought creation of water sources and enhancing water use efficiency as core concern of the farm sector. The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna (PMKSY) launched in 2015-16 would not only enhance water resources in the country but also increase water use efficiency. Against revised estimate (RE) of Rs.1550 crore during 2015-16, the allocation under PMKSY for 2016-17 has been raised to significantly to Rs.2340 crore. Availability of Land being limited, higher income can be obtained only through increase in crop productivity which can not be achieved without balanced use of fertilizers. Therefore, the Government has launched a comprehensive Soil Health Card (SHC) Scheme to promote use of fertilizers needed as per requirement of soil nutrients in respect of 14 crore holdings of the country. In this context, he highlighted that the States have already collected 90 lakh samples and tested more than 60 lakh samples. Considering the imbalanced use of fertilizers which has resulted in deterioration in the soil fertility, he emphasized on the need for creating awareness about Soil Health Cards. He also mentioned that there is considerable scope for promoting organic farming without compromising on yield. In this context, he mentioned the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) being implemented in a mission mode to promote organic farming, particularly in the rainfed and hilly areas. He emphasized on ensuring remunerative return to the farmers so as to enhance farmer income. Highlighting the importance of marketing reforms in agriculture sector, he informed that Government is launching the scheme for establishing National Agricultural Market (NAM) on 14th April, 2016 which will cover 200 markets by September 2016 and another 200 by March, 2017. This will help farmers in realization of more competitive prices on their produce and lead to increase in their income. He requested State Secretaries in-charge of Marketing to complete the reform process and join NAM as early as possible. He also expressed happiness that to secure farmers against various risks and uncertainties, Government is implementing the comprehensive and highly progressive Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY). This is a path breaking initiatives for farmers welfare, and advised all the States to finalize bids and assign district to various insurance companies so that farmers can take advantage of the PMFBY right from Kharif 2016.

To facilitate focused deliberations, the States were divided into following thirteen Groups on different topics on the first day of the Campaign namely;

i. Pulses & Oilseeds – strategy to improve productivity and production of pulses & oilseeds through improved technology package.

ii. Rice-Strategy to enhance productivity and production of paddy in stress prone areas (rainfed, flood prone etc.) as also in Eastern India.

iii. Cotton-management of cotton crop particularly pest & disease vulnerability by deploying appropriate technology management practices.

iv. Intervention and strategy needed to reduce cost of cultivation in farming through better input management.

v. Organic Farming-Promotion of organic farming in hilly areas to realize yield potential on a sustainable basis.

vi. Effective implementation of crop insurance scheme to achieve maximum coerage of the farmers over Kharif 2016

vii. Technology led growth for achieving high productivity in Horticulture.

viii. Reducing post harvest losses and augmenting the production towards cold chain.

ix. Enhancing animal productivity and production through better feed management and disease control.

x. Financing and management of procurement, processing and marketing infrastructure on the dairy sector, particularly refurbishing of very old dairy plants.

xi. Reforms in agricultural marketing – implementation of National Agricultural Market.

xii. Improving access of farmers to institutional credit for both short-term and long term capital investment in agricultural sectors.

xiii. Issues related to procurement of pulses and oilseeds at MSP under Price Support Scheme and its effective utilization to incentivize pulse and oil production in the country.

On the second day of the Campaign domain-wise group discussions with States were held for Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries and Marketing, Credit and Cooperation leading to finalization of recommendations and evolution of strategy of Kharif 2016. The recommendations of each of the 4 domains were presented before the Hon’ble Minister in the afternoon session of the 2nd day (12th April). All the participants were given an opportunity to share their opinions, comments and suggestions besides seeking clarification in 2 open house session. The 1st such session was chaired by the three Secretaries of the Ministry and the second one by the Union Agriculture Minister himself.

The conference ended with a concluding address by the Agriculture Minister who advised all the States to firm up their Kharif strategy based on integrated farming approach. The Minister advised the different Departments dealing with Agriculture and Allied Sectors at the State Level to work in a concerted manner.