Favourable monsoon will aid farm growth this year: Agri min

Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh on Tuesday said the country was poised to witness strong farm growth this year, aided by a good monsoon predicted by India Meteorological Department (IMD).

“If the IMD forecast comes true, I am confident that foodgrain output will definitely increase and the overall agricultural growth will also be higher,” Singh said at a press conference here.

The minister also said the Modi government would continue with the trend of higher minimum support prices for pulses for the upcoming agriculture season.

“The first priority of the central government was to take up effective initiatives to fight the challenges prevailing in the agricultural sector. I would like to tell you despite a more severe drought this year, compared to last year, we have been able to maintain the levels of food production,” Singh said.

He said the Modi government had taken a number of initiatives to minimise the cost of agricultural production.

“…Fourteen crore farmers in the country are being given soil health cards. Apart from this, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana has been launched to promote organic farming. Neem-coated urea, improved varieties of seeds and planting material, and schemes like Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana have been introduced,” he said.

The minister also said he was not against genetically-modified (GM) crops and said he would abide by any decision taken by the country’s biotech regular, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, under the environment ministry.

He said the central government was committed to bringing down input costs for farmers and that was the reason for capping costs of GM cotton seeds at Rs 800 a packet.

Upbeat over the prospects of a good monsoon, the agriculture ministry has set a target of achieving a record 270.10 million tonnes of foodgrain production in the 2016-17 crop year, he said.