Drought spoils farm sector's dream run
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Notwithstanding crop losses in Kharif (summer crops), the government expects the foodgrains production in the 2012-13 crop year (July-June) to reach 250 million tonnes, which would still be the second best performance of the sector.
Keeping this in mind, the government has decided to continue export of rice and wheat even next year. The year saw shipments of over 10 million tonnes of rice and wheat but Iran's concern about quality of Indian wheat, which remained in news throughout the year, could not be resolved.
"Initially, we were not sure if our wheat will be accepted. We were wrong, the quality of our wheat is being recognised and we are getting good prices," Food Secretary Sudhir Kumar said.
If the country is able to produce 250 million tonnes next year, the performance of the agriculture sector would be noteworthy considering the problems faced by farmers in forms of poor monsoon this year and rise in cost of fertiliser, seed, diesel and labour. The UPA government's flagship programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) pushed the labour wages and the government's decision to decontrol prices of phosphatic and potassic fertiliserspushed di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) and potash (MOP) out of reach for small and marginal farmers.
The year also saw the government failing to bring Food Security Bill, a pet project of UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, into the Parliament for passage.
The government also could not set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to look into the issues of farmers' suicide as promised by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar in December 2011, despite the tragedy continuing to haunt some parts of the country. The Food Security Bill, which seeks to provide legal right over subsidised foodgrains to 70 per cent of population, was introduced in Parliament in December last year and was sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee.
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