Saturday, July 29, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Agri-policy aims at 4 pc growth
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, July 28 — The country’s first national policy on agriculture aims at a growth rate in excess of 4 per cent per annum in the next two decades.

According to the policy, appropriate measures will be adopted to ensure that agriculturists by and large remain outside the regulatory and tax collection systems. Farmers would be exempted from the payment of capital gains tax on compulsory acquisition of agricultural land.

Setting the new areas of thrust, the policy, presented to Parliament by Agriculture Minister, Mr Nitish Kumar, lays emphasis on sustainable agriculture, one that is technically sound, economically viable, environmentally non-degrading and socially acceptable.

A long-term perspective plan for sustainable rainfed agriculture through watershed approach will be vigorously pursued for the development of two-thirds of India’s cropped area which is dependant on rains.

Development of animal husbandry, poultry, dairying and aqua culture would receive a high priority.

The policy also proposes to establish a national seed grid to ensure the supply of seeds especially to areas affected by natural calamities.

Several incentive schemes have also been listed for the agriculture sector and these include:

  • Bestowing on the sector in as many respects as possible benefits similar to those obtaining in the manufacturing sector, such as easy availability of credit and other inputs, and infrastructure facilities for the development of agri-business industries and development of effective delivery systems and free movement of agro produce.
  • Consequent upon the dismantling of quantitative restrictions on imports as per WTO agreement on agriculture, commodity-wise strategies and arrangements for protecting the grower from adverse impact of undue price fluctuations in world markets and for promoting exports would be formulated. Apart from price competition other aspects of marketing such as quality, choice, health and bio-safety would be promoted.
  • A two-fold strategy of diversification of agricultural produce and value addition enabling the production system to respond to external environment and creating export demand for the commodities produced in the country would be evolved with a view to providing the farmers incremental income from export earnings.
  • Quarantine, both of exports and imports, would be given particular attention so that Indian agriculture is protected from the ingress of exotic pests and diseases.
  • The structure of taxes on foodgrains and other commercial crops would be reviewed and rationalised.

Measures to increase investments in the agriculture sector include a time-bound strategy for the rationalisation and transparent pricing of inputs to encourage judicious input use and to generate resources for agriculture, a conducive climate would be created to promote farmers’ own investments as also investments by industries and private sector.

A comprehensive insurance policy has been planned for farmers under which they would be insured right from sowing of the crops to post-harvest operations, including market fluctuations in the prices of agricultural produce.

Minimum support prices policy for major agricultural commodities is to be continued and the food, nutrition and other domestic and exports requirements would be kept in view while determining them.

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