Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Food policy required

Sopan Correspondent / New Delhi
There could be a possible steep rise in the food prices during 2011 as per the alert issued by The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to the developing countries.

The FAO said that with the pressure on world prices of most commodities not abating, the international community must remain vigilant against further supply shocks in 2011. India is no different in the backdrop of the global scenario.

The central government has already made it clear that there is need to increase farm production and productivity if the National Food Security Act was to be implemented. To provide food at subsidised rates to the BPL (below poverty line) and APL (above party line) families, at least 65 million tonnes of foodgrains were required for the buffer stocks.

At present, the government has a policy of promoting various zones for different crops to meet the future requirements of the country. While Punjab would continue to be the main producer of wheat, deliberations with the State government, experts, research organisations and farmers' groups would be initiated to find a replacement for paddy. This would be done to ease pressure on the groundwater requirement. The government would ensure that the replacement crop provided better returns to farmers.

The farm sector already suffers from shrinking of farm land and also labour shortage after the implementation of the NREGS (National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme). These have to be overcome and the yield per area increased to meet the growing demand.

Suggestions have already been made about the need for the second green revolution based on modern technologies and specific solutions to various problems faced by the farm sector. Though agriculture contributed to just 17 per cent of the national Gross Domestic Product, it was the biggest security net of the common man in the country.

Experts want an income orientation to agriculture through higher productivity per unit of land and assured and remunerative marketing opportunities. In addition, prevailing mismatch between production and post-harvest technologies should come to en end. Grain storage facilities have to be created on a large scale without delay, they argue. States like Bihar, which by-passed the Green revolution earlier, have to be targeted in a big way given the food scenario in the country at present with appropriate incentives in technology, infusion of funds and other modern inputs.

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