CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today urged the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to help the state in promoting farm diversification and demanded a technology mission for 'Diversification of Agriculture with an allocation of Rs 5,000 crore for green revolution areas in the 12th Five Year Plan.
Pleading the state’s case before a high level delegation of experts from Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries led by Sharad Pawar, the Chief Minister said that Punjab farmers stood by the nation during its need for food security and deserved to be supported in a big way. He emphasized that the procurement of alternate crops especially Maize through Food Corporation of India at MSP should be ensured to help the beleaguered farmers of the state to shift them from Paddy.
He also reiterated that livestock sector could play a major role in improving the income of the small and landless farmers in the rural areas however, for this purpose it must be brought at par with agriculture for the purpose of funding, interest on loans as well as Income tax exemptions.
Demanding a slew of incentives to promote dairying in a big way, Badal urged the Union Agriculture Minister to grant exemption from custom duty for import of machinery relating to dairy, poultry, feed and fodder, besides additional allocation under various Dairy Development schemes.
Badal also asked the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to revise the norms with regard to cow milk in view of actual quality of cow milk in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, which was required to have 4% fat. On the contrary, for all other parts of the country these standards were different and the requirement of fat was only 3.5%.
The milk of high yielding cross bred cows contains fat about 3.5% and there is dire need to rationalize the standards as in other parts of country.
He also demanded that small ruminants such as goatry and piggery be included under National Mission on Protein Supplement besides setting up of an ICAR unit for research in fisheries and prawns in the state.
Responding to the demands raised by the Chief Minister, Pawar consented in principle for launching a technology mission to promote crop diversification in the region. To strengthen the research for development of Maize the ICAR would set up a state-of-the-art institute over a land area of 100 hectares to be provided by the State. To ensure marketing of maize, Pawar desired that the state should create a legal frame work to facilitate contact farming of maize with the poultry and cattle feed industry.
To encourage the adoption of fisheries in saline and waterlogged areas, Pawar announced to set up five ultramodern demonstration centers one each at Mansa, Bathinda, Muktsar, Faridkot and Ferozepur districts. A prestigious research center for fisheries and prawn culture would be set up in GADVASU to meet the need of state farmers for quality seedlings.
Pawar assured the Chief Minister that he would soon take up the matter for export of dairy and poultry products through Wagah border with Ministries of Commerce and External Affairs. Likewise, he also assured that he would also take up the matter with Union Ministry of Finance to equate livestock sector with agriculture for the exemption of income tax and interest rates etc. To ensure development and modernization of milk processing infrastructure in the state, the National Dairy Development Board shall be asked to provide soft loan to the state Milk Federation.
Expressing gratitude to Pawar, the Chief Minister said that he was over-whelmed by the special concern shown by him to bail out the state peasantry in this hour of crisis and support farm diversification programs. He apprised Mr. Pawar that a monitoring and steering committee for diversification has already been constituted under Chairman Punjab State Farmers’ Commission Dr.GS Kalkat, besides two technical support groups have also been formed to implement the mega diversification program in crop and livestock sector in right earnest.
The Government of India was represented by Secretary Agriculture Ashish Bahuguna, Secretary Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries GC Patti and Director General ICAR S.Ayappan, Joint Secretary Crops Mukesh Khullar and Joint Secretary Animal Husbandry Mrs. Rajni Sekhri Sibal. The State was represented by Food & Supplies Minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, Animal Husbandry Minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur, Chairman Punjab State Farmers’ Commission Dr.GS Kalkat, Chief Parliamentary Secretaries Desh Raj Dhugga and GS Babbehali.
Financial Commissioner Development GS Sandhu, Financial Commissioner Animal Husbandry Jagpal Singh Sandhu, VC PAU Dr. BS Dhillon and VC GADVASU Dr. VK Taneja, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister SK Sandhu, Secretary Food & Supplies DS Grewal, Special Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Mr. Gaggandip Singh Brar, Advisor Agriculture Dr. BS Sidhu, Director Agriculture MS Sandhu, Director Animal Husbandry Dr. HS Sandha, Director Dairy Development Inderjit Singh and Director Fisheries Dr. BK Sood.