To rejuvenate the sagging agriculture in the state, Maharashtra government has decided to bring in a new policy that will focus on promoting indigenous seeds instead of genetically-modified ones and also farm-allied businesses.
The new policy would be unveiled in 6-8 months after studying the measures adopted by those states which have recorded healthy expansion in the highly important sector over the last few years, Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar said today.
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“An expert committee consisting of scientists from agriculture universities will be constituted and it will visit Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. The committee will study the policies adopted by them to increase growth rate in the agriculture sector,” he said.
Last fiscal, he said, the growth rate in the farm sector in Madhya Pradesh was 20 per cent, the highest in the country. During the same period, Gujarat recorded 8.45 per cent growth rate in the sector, Andhra Pradesh 8.40 per cent, Chhattisgarh 7.8 per cent and Karnataka 7.8 per cent.
The national growth in the key sector, which employs a large number of people but whose share in GDP had been falling, stood at 3.2 per cent, while Maharashtra has recorded minus growth in the last three years, he added.
“Until the year 2000, we had several hybrid seeds available which gave huge yields. But when bio-technology (BT) seeds were introduced, specifically in cotton, soil standard drastically reduced leading to drop in yields,” he said.
Fundkar said in one acre of land, farmers can plant one lakh saplings of hybrid cotton seeds, while the corresponding figure for BT cotton is only 7,000.
“Farmers are again veering towards hybrid seeds and we will take steps to promote them,” he said, adding agriculture universities would be asked to develop indigenous seeds.
The new policy will also promote agriculture-allied businesses where farmers can venture to generate income in case of a drought, the Minister said.
He said phenomenons like global warming and climate change are adversely affecting the sector.
“Climate change and global warming are hampering the agriculture sector. Therefore, the crop pattern needs to be changed in a way that farmers can benefit.”
Fundkar said drip irrigation will be promoted for all kinds of crops.
“Cotton, jowar and tur are traditional crops of Vidarbha. But farmers need to move on from these crops as the climate there is changing due to global warming,” he said.