A new agriculture policy in Orissa seeks to promote a shift from subsistence agriculture to commercial,and encourage higher,long-term investment by the private sector,including through public-private partnerships. Ahead of elections,its focus extends to farmers economic well-being rather than just raising productivity.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is set to unveil the policy,which marks a shift in focus back to agriculture after an effort at industrialisation. Soon after his second electoral win in 2004,Naveen had signed a string of MoUs for big projects with steel,power and aluminium companies. His dream of an industrialised Orissa has,however,never really taken off,due to public opposition to mega projects such as Posco and Vedanta as well as delays in getting regulatory approvals for them. Besides,they havent generated enough employment and have caused loss of agricultural land.
Agriculture still employs over 70 per cent of the states 4.2 crore population,but contributes only 15.35 per cent to the gross state domestic product.
The renewed interest in the sector started early this year with the BJD government presenting a separate agriculture budget with an allocation of Rs 7,161.84 crore,up 26 per cent from Rs 5,627.87 crore for the sector in the 2012-13 state budget. Karnataka was the first state to have a separate agriculture budget. The one Orissa announced combines into a single package the farmer components of five departments agriculture,cooperatives,water resources,fisheries and animal resources,and energy. Finance Minister Prasanna Acharya,who presented the agriculture budget,said that despite various initiatives taken,they had been having no visible impact in the absence of focused attention on strengthening the sector comprehensively.
The Agriculture Policy 2013 that Naveen will soon announce will seek to chart a clear growth path. Among its objectives is bridging the gap in per capita income between the farm and non-farm sectors. It includes subsidies for various kinds of projects and looks for ways to allow farmers to market their produce without the involvement of middlemen,including agri-export zones to be set up through PPP.
Up to 90 per cent subsidy will be provided for community-based mega lift irrigation projects covering not less than 40 hectares irrigated area. So will micro-irrigation projects involving drip and sprinkler. Drawing from electric lines for dug wells and private lift irrigation points will be subsidised under Biju Gram Jyoti Yojana. Ponds will be dug in the farms of individuals through the Watershed Associations; small and marginal farmers will get this facility free,and others at 50-per-cent subsidy.
To cover 55 lakh farmer households,Naveen will launch a Biju Krushak Kalyan Yojana under which farmers would get reimbursement of Rs 30,000 against hospitalisation costs. The Orissa State Treatment Fund will provide coverage up to Rs 3 lakh to farmers suffering from kidney,heart or other major complications.
Farmers today transport vegetables and fruits in bulk without any packing; they will be provided subsidy for crates and other equipment they buy. Storage facilities will be created at important market centres by the Orissa State Agriculture Marketing Board to facilitate scientific storage till the produce can be sold at remunerative prices. The agri-export zones to be established through PPP will be for agricultural and horticultural produce with export potential.
D P Ray,former vice-chancellor of Orissa University of Agriculture Technology,says the policy should focus more on buyback arrangements. Its a forward-looking and pragmatic policy. I hope it weeds out the middlemen between farmers and buyers.
The policy will promote contract farming. This is already in practice for cotton and oilseed in several western and southern districts,and will be extended to other crops. The policy will push mechanisation by subsidising 50 per cent of the cost of tractors,power tillers,self-propelled reapers,paddy transplanters and similar machines.
To encourage organic farming,the government will bear the cost of certification of organic crops. Organic farming will be included in the school syllabus as a subject.
Among crops,focus areas include vegetables and flowers. Though Orissa is the countrys second largest producer of vegetables,behind only West Bengal,most of the produce has been going waste due to lack of cold storage facilities. Under the policy,Orissa will promote ventures by private farms for setting up cold storage and processing facilities on a large scale in every district,providing subsidy up to 60 per cent of the capital investment excluding the cost of land.
Flower production went up to 2.52 lakh quintals in 2009-10 from a mere 28,600 quintals in 2006-07. The policy will encourage growers cooperatives and wholesale markets exclusively for flowers. Contract farming of flowers will be encouraged with forward linkages. Financial incentives will be provided not only for cultivation of flowers but also for post-harvest management,including marketing.
90% Up to that much for various irrigation projects
100% To marginal farmers for ponds,50% to others
50% for mechanised equipment
Rs 30,000 Medical insurance
Rs 3 lakh For major health complications marketing
Agri-export zones through PPP
Subsidy on transportation equipment
Storage facilities at important market centres
Organic farming; it will become a school subject,govt also to bear certification cost
Preserving vegetables; 60% subsidy of total (cost excluding that of land) for private storage facilities
Flowers; with exclusive growers cooperatives and wholesale markets