GANGTOK, Jan 17 - Aiming to achieve four per cent growth in the farm sector, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh today called for convergence of existing schemes to boost investment in the sector.
�To achieve high growth in agriculture, we need to increase both public and private investments. We are looking at convergence of schemes to enhance investments in agriculture,� Singh said while addressing a national conference on sustainable agriculture and farmers welfare here.
Higher investment will lead to creation of backward and forward linkages besides support production, processing and marketing, he added.
As per government data, public investment showed lower growth (11.42 per cent) than private investment (19.81 per cent) during 2004-05 to 2012-13.
Currently, public and private investments are financed through two sources: loans from financial institutions by individuals and governments, and budgetary support from the Central and State Governments.
Since the Centre and States have similar schemes for financing investments, there is duplication or concentration of activities in particular areas. Therefore, there is a need to pool the financial resources of the Central and State Governments.
The three-day conference, after detailed deliberations with State Agriculture Ministers and officers, will recommend investment activities to be supported through public and private investment and accordingly schemes at the Central and State level would be designed in an integrated manner.
The suggestions with regard to investment and other areas will be placed before Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow and may also find their way in the forthcoming Union Budget.
Besides investment, Singh also emphasised on reforming the land lease policy, ways to improve credit flow in agriculture, effective implementation of crop insurance scheme, and establishment of national agriculture market.
�Issues related to land lease have assumed importance, in view of its practice all over the country. But, lessees are not eligible for assistance from banks and governments. This is hampering productivity,� he said.
Sharing a success story of organic farming, Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling said that the State is the first State in the country that follows fully organic farming.
�We initiated organic farming in 2003 and have taken giant steps forward, turning into an organic State successfully. However, it would require further investments in diverse areas,� he added.
Chamling wanted the Centre to strengthen value chain, linking growers with consumers, support for distribution of seeds, certification, creation of facilities for collection, aggregation and value addition besides processing.
Chamling also demanded Central assistance in installing cold chain infrastructure, bio-fertiliser subsidy, special transport subsidy for movement of organic produce, and development of agri-export zone for organic products.
He also wanted the regional centre of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to be converted into a national centre for organic farming.
The Chief Minister also proposed an organic seed bank to be set up in the State.
He pegged the global market for organic produce at USD 72 billion and wanted to promote organic agriculture in more organised and planned manner for it to emerge as the country�s largest industry.
Ministers of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Kumar Balyan and Mohanbhai Kundariya also addressed the event. � PTI