Plan for drought-proofing
smarting from last year's severe drought, the Union ministry of agriculture has asked state governments to encourage crop diversification. The pre-emptive measure seeks to factor in the effect of monsoon failure in the present kharif season. But in the absence of facilities for storage, preservation and processing of alternative crops, it may prove to be a non-starter.
The contingency plan for 2003 is based on four possibilities: delay in onset of monsoon, its timely arrival and sudden break, early withdrawal, and delayed departure or extended rains.
"The rice-wheat cycle has depleted water and nutrients in the soil," says Panjab Singh, former director general, Indian Council of Agricultural Research. He is, however, sceptical about the implementation of the programme. "Contingency plans like these help but they have to be backed by convincing cropping systems," opines Singh. The acting chairperson of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, T Haque, reveals: "While fixing the minimum support price, we try to encourage diversification by keeping higher rates for alternative crops. But there are other factors such as procurement and storage, which must also be considered if a significant increase in the yield of these crops is to be seen."
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.