NATIONAL AGRICULTURE POLICY

             The first ever National Agriculture Policy was announced on 28th July, 2000. The National Policy on Agriculture seeks to actualise the vast untapped growth potential of Indian agriculture, strengthen rural infrastructure to support faster agricultural development, promote value addition, accelerate the growth of agro business, create employment in rural areas, secure a fair standard of living for the farmers and agricultural workers and their families, discourage migration to urban areas and face the challenges arising out of economic liberalization and globalisation. Over the next two decades, it aims to attain:

A growth rate in excess of 4 per cent per annum in the agriculture sector;
Growth that is based on efficient use of resources and conserves our soil, water and bio-diversity;
Growth with equity, i.e., growth which is widespread across regions and farmers;
Growth that is demand driven and caters to domestic markets and maximises benefits from exports of agricultural products in the face of the challenges arising from economic liberalization and globalisation;
Growth that is sustainable technologically, environmentally and economically.

               

            The policy seeks to promote technically sound, economically viable, environmentally non-degrading, and socially acceptable use of country’s natural resources - land, water and genetic endowment to promote sustainable development of agriculture.

            The use of bio-technologies will be promoted for evolving plants which consume less water, are drought resistant, pest resistant, contain more nutrition, give higher yields and are environmentally safe. Conservation of bio-resources through their ex situ preservation in Gene Banks, as also in situ conservation in their natural habitats through bio-diversity parks, etc., will receive a high priority to prevent depletion of bio-diversity.

                Balanced and conjunctive use of bio-mass, organic and inorganic fertilizers and controlled use of agro chemicals through integrated nutrients and pest management (INM & IPM) will be promoted.

            A regionally differentiated strategy will be pursued, taking into account the agronomic, climatic and environmental conditions to realize the full growth potential of every region. Special attention will be given to development of new crop varieties, particularly of food crops, with higher nutritional value.

             A major thrust will be given to development of rainfed and irrigated horticulture, floriculture, roots and tubers, plantation crops, aromatic and medicinal plants, bee-keeping and sericulture for augmenting food supply, promoting exports and generating employment in the rural areas.

                Development of animal husbandry, poultry, dairying and aqua-culture will receive a high priority in the efforts for diversifying agriculture, increasing animal protein availability in the food basket and for generating exportable surpluses.

             An integrated approach to marine and inland fisheries, designed to promote sustainable aquaculture practices, will be adopted.

             The regionalization of agricultural research based on identified agro-climatic zones will be accorded high priority. Application of frontier sciences like bio-technology, remote sensing technologies, pre and post-harvest technologies, energy saving technologies, technology for environmental protection through national research system as well as proprietary research will be encouraged.

             The research and extension linkages will be strengthened to improve quality and effectiveness of research and extension system.

                Adequate and timely supply of quality inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, plant protection chemicals, bio-pesticides, agricultural machinery and credit at reasonable rates to farmers will be the endeavour of the Government.

             The Government will endeavour to create a favourable economic environment for increasing capital formation and farmer’s own investments by removing distortions in the incentive regime for agriculture, improving the terms of trade with manufacturing sectors and bringing about external and domestic market reforms.

             Rural electrification will be given a high priority as a prime mover for agricultural development. The quality and availability of electricity supply will be improved and the demand of the agriculture sector will be met adequately in a reliable and cost effective manner.

             Bridging the gap between irrigation potential created and utilized, completion of all on-going projects, restoration and modernization of irrigation infrastructure including drainage, evolving and implementing an integrated plan of augmentation and management of national water resources will receive special attention for augmenting the availability and use of irrigation water.

                Emphasis will be laid on development of marketing infrastructure and techniques of preservation, storage and transportation with a view to reducing post-harvest losses and ensuring a better return to the grower.

             Setting up of agro-processing units in the producing areas to reduce wastage, especially of horticultural produce, increased value addition and creation of off-farm employment in rural areas will be encouraged.

                Institutional reforms will be pursued so as to channelise their energies for achieving greater productivity and production.

             The Government will provide active support for the promotion of cooperative form of enterprise and ensure greater autonomy and operational freedom to them to improve their functioning.

                Endeavour will be made to provide a package insurance policy for the farmers, right from sowing of the crops to post-harvest operations, including market fluctuations in the prices of agricultural produce.

             The price structure and trade mechanism will be continuously reviewed to ensure a favourable economic environment for the agriculture sector and to bring about an equitable balance between the rural and the urban incomes.

             Quality consciousness amongst farmers and agro processors will be created. Grading and standardization of agricultural products will be promoted for export enhancement. Application of science and technology in agriculture will be promoted through a regular system of interface between Science and Technology institutions and the users/potential users to make the sector globally competitive.

            The database for the agriculture sector will be strengthened to ensure greater reliability of estimates and forecasting which will help in the process of planning and policy making.

Follow up Action 

                Various Central Sector and Centrally Sponsored Schemes are  being implemented by  the Government of India and the State Governments for development of agriculture and allied activities as per guidelines of the  Agriculture Policy.   Following major initiatives have been taken  to accelerate the pace of developmental activity and implement the objectives of the Agriculture Policy: 

              Macro Management Scheme  has been launched after integrating 27 ongoing Centrally Sponsored Schemes to enable a shift from programmatic approach to a macro mangement mode of assistance to the states in the form of work plans based on crop/area specific, regionally different strategies, to provide flexibility to State Governments and to ensure timely and effective application of limited financial resources.

              Common guidelines have been issued for National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas to harmonize the implementing norms with other watershed development programmes.  A Watershed Development Fund with a corpus of Rs.200 crores  each from NABARD and the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, has been created.   

              A Technology Mission for the Integrated Development of Horticulture in the North-Eastern Region has been launched.

            Seed Legislation is under revision to provide fillip to varietal  research and  plant breeding.  Enactment of legislation on the “Protection of Plant Varieties  and Farmers Rights”.This is likely to stimulate investment and initiative both in public and private sector for development of new plant varieties and a vibrant seed industry. A National Seed Policy is under formulation.   A Scheme for Seed Crop Insurance has been launched to cover the risks involved in seed production.  A Seed Bank has been established to meet contingent requirements of seed in the wake of natural calamities.

                Increasing availability, flexibility and security in the flow of credit to the farmers. All eligible farmers are  proposed to be covered under the Kisan Credit Cards scheme within the next 3 years.  A personal insurance package is proposed to be extended to Card Holders covering them against risk to life and injury. 

              A scheme has been introduced for provision of capital subsidy for construction/modernization and expansion of cold storages and storages for horticultural produce.

              Rural Infrastructure Development Fund  corpus has been increased in 2001-02 from Rs. 45,00,00,00 thousands to Rs.5,00,00,000 thousands and the interest rate charged by NABARD reduced.

              Market Information Network has been launched with the objective to provide farmers latest information on price movements ofagricultural commodities and  other essential  data.

                Cooperative Sector Reforms: a new Bill has been formulated and introduced in Parliament for replacing the  existing Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 1984.

                Formulation of new subsidy linked scheme for establishment of rural godowns.

                Promotion of Food Processing Industries and value addition in agriculture through the excise exemptions and other interventions.

              Standing Committee of Union Ministers and Chief Ministers constituted to consider issues concerning agricultural strategies, food management and promotion of agriculture exports. The Committee has approved the outline of the proposed Grain Bank Scheme which will be extended to BPL families in identified areas and developed on the contours of the recently launched Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana.