GOA BUDGET 2012-13: Agriculture & Allied Sector reforms for self-sufficiency in food for Goa

26, Mar 2012

Growth in this sector has been substantially low at 1.77% in 2010-11 at constant prices as compared to the growth rate of 3.26 in the year 2009-10. This despite the previous government announcing schemes and infusing funds could not manage to achieve the growth rate of the previous year. We must therefore take a re-look at this sector again. Lopsided policies of previous government has made agriculture a non-viable economic proposition. I believe the agriculture sector could be revived by use of intensive farm mechanization and support price, farm subsidies, etc. A new Agricultural policy will be framed, so that critical issues like land use, production, management, and employment generation.

Support price for paddy raised to Rs 17 per kg

The support price for paddy will be raised from Rs 7 per kilogram of paddy to Rs 17 per kilogram. The money will be paid by the government directly into the farmers’ bank accounts. This should bring larger areas under paddy cultivation. “My aim,” says Parrikar, “is to see that Goa becomes self sufficient in basic food items.”

Cashew nuts Rs 90 per kg, arecanut rs 170 per kg

Cashew plantations will benefit by the new support price of Rs 90 per kg of cashew nuts. Cooperative societies will be encouraged to be set up. Kullaghars are a unique symbol of Goa’s agrarian society. These are slowly vanishing. Arecanut plantations form a different ecosystem with intercrops like spices, bananas, vegetables, etc. which are unique to our state. To protect this ecosystem, and to make it an economically viable proposition and assured support price of Rs 170 per kg as against an assured price of Rs 100 per kg at present.

Coconuts Rs 8 per pc, sugarcane Rs 2400 per ton

Coconut farmers will celebrate with a new support price of Rs 8 per coconut. Locally grown fruit and veggies will be given a fixed support price. It will be sold at designated outlets for a fixed rate regardless of whether the market price rises or falls. Sugarcane gets a support price of Rs 500 per ton to assure of sugarcane growth in the state. Now the government will guarantee a support price of Rs 2400 per ton of sugarcane sold by the farmer to the Sanjeevani Sugar Factory in Goa from February 2012. Due to the high cost of inputs, an advance payment of Rs 1000 per ton will be paid to the farmer in September 2012 provided the farmer is a regular supplier of sugarcane to the Sanjeevani Sugar Factory cooperative.

Cash crop centric subsidies

Other local cash crops like cashew, coconut, etc will get a subsidy for cultivation to the extent of 75% of the cost of cultivation. Other subsidies from various Government of India schemes will be adjusted within this 75% subsidy. Groundnut cultivation will get a 100 percent subsidy for the cost of the seed. Rs 40 crore will be kept aside for these measures.

Farmers credit

Kisan Credit Cards will be distributed to all farmers to provide easily available credit to handle cost of inputs.

“It is extremely painful to see a farmer collapse under the burden of loans,” said Parrikar addressing the House. “It is sad to see the farmer suffer the pangs of hunger to keep us free from hunger.” The farmers are afraid to take high interest loans, they find they can do nothing with fragmented land holdings and dodgy ownership. Marginal farmers use a large portion of their produce for domestic consumption. As an incentive interest free loans from corporate banks will be given to marginal farmers. The government will pay the interest separately, directly into the loan account of the farmer. Even if the land title is not clear and the farmer is a deserving case, a special cell in the EDC will extend a loan of up to Rs 2 lakh to the farmer.

Watershed management scheme

The Centre will be implementing a watershed management system all over the State. An autonomous society will be set up to speed up implementation of this programme. The society will consist of government representatives and farmers. This programme is expected to cost Rs 1000 lakh annually for which Parrikar has set aside the state’s share to supplement the grants from the Centre.

Dairy farming Rs 30 per lite and veterinarian backup
Milk farmers will get a support price of Rs 30 per litre. Green fodder will be made available. Rs 15 crore has been budgeted for the dairy farmers from Rs 8.5 crore earlier. The Khamdenu scheme will be revived. Each veterinary centre will be provided a doctor and sufficient stock of medicines. Vehicles will be given to the veterinary centres. 60 motorcycles have already been sanctioned to the department so that milk farmers can get veterinary help for their animals quickly. The state will be self sufficient in milk and vegetable production in 4 years time frame. Employment generation pegged at 10,000 in tribal and rural areas.

Natural waterbodies to be cleaned and maintained
Natural waterbodies abound in Goa, ponds, lakes, wells, nullahs… these will be developed, desilted and maintained by the government, NGOs and the locals so farmers can avail of this perennial supply of fresh water. Rs 100 lakhs is kept for this exercise, instead of the previous Rs 25 lakh.

Bringing back traditional occupations
Sluice gates and bundhs are symbols of our traditional engineering skills, however they need constant repairs, so a special unit will be created to address this need.

Traditional salt farming will be encouraged. Parrikar feels traditional occupations can once again become a major source of employment. Traditional occupations will be given all the help required.

Continuous feed back between govt and farmers

Fallow land will be identified and brought under cultivation by providing incentives to the farmers. Rs 500 lakh will be kept aside for this.

Encouragement will be given to schemes to cheat the vagaries of the weather with greenhouses and cold storages getting 100% subsidies up to a set limit. Beyond that the government will facilitate interest free loans through corporate banks.

Schemes will be taken to the doors of the farmers to explain the schemes to the farmers including necessary tools that the farmers need.

All this looks very good on paper. Recognizing this Parrikar says, “I will have a meeting with the farmers to see that the schemes devised by me are hassle free and farmer friendly in a climate of mutual trust.” Parrikar is looking at a 6% growth in the Agricultural and Allied Sector during the coming year. The aim is self sufficiency in food within four years.

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