A lot of chaff

That's what the national agricultural policy is all about

Published: Thursday 31 August 2000

it has taken ten years for the government of India to come up with a national agricultural policy. Yet, the document just highlights the challenges of Indian agriculture and does not address the issues and problems that confront the sector.

"It is a general statement and does contains any mechanisms to achieve these targets," says Abhijeet Sen, chairperson, commission for agricultural costs and prices and professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Even some officials in the agricultural ministry admit its limitations. Says D S Bhatnagar, additional economic advisor in the ministry: "Now we are going to prepare a detailed action plan." However, he declined to provide the time frame for the detailed action plan.

The policy document says that the government will give importance to improving the quality of the country's land and soil resources; rationalise the utilisation and conservation of the country's abundant water resources; balanced use of biomass, organic and inorganic fertilisers and control the use of agro chemicals through integrated and nutrient management.

Nitish Kumar, the Union minister for agriculture, has said that the private sector must be encouraged to invest in fundamental research. Says Hay Soree of Yardi and Soree India, an organisation involved in promoting organic agriculture: "I find precious little about organic agriculture in the document."

Ashok Gulati of the National Bank for Rural Development ( nabard) , Delhi, said that he found the document contained more chaff, while he was looking for grain. Adds Soree, "It seems that everything is important and most likely it is true. However, when it comes to how to get there and what to do and when, it seems that a lot of homework still needs to be done."

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