Minister of State for Agriculture Krishna Byre Gowda on Tuesday said that the existing schemes of the Agriculture Department would be streamlined for effective implementation and to ensure that they reached farmers.

A day after assuming charge, Mr. Byre Gowda, who chaired a meeting of department officials and vice-chancellors of Universities Agricultural Sciences, said that the department has been implementing many schemes for the past several years. Keeping in mind farmers’ interests, he said, a few schemes would be prioritised and simplified.

“Some schemes are outdated and a serious thought has to be given whether they should be continued or not,” he said.

Noting that sowing activities are likely to commence in the second week of June, the Minister said that 10.68 lakh quintals of seeds have been procured for distribution among farmers at subsidised prices (50 per cent). All efforts would be made to achieve the growth rate of 4.5 per cent in the farm sector during the 12 Plan period, he said.

Asked about diversion of fertilizers during the kharif season, he said squads have been formed to crack down on illegal hoarding of nutrients by dealers.

On the proposal that had been floated by the BJP government to merge the Watershed Department with the Agriculture Department, he said a decision would be taken only after consultation with experts and officials. Area under watersheds would be increased to help farmers take up income generating activities.

He said that making agriculture a profitable occupation was a major challenge before the government. The farm sector has been adversely affected by shortage of power supply, erratic monsoon and high input costs. More technologies would be made available to farmers to enhance crop yield and to tackle pests, Mr. Byre Gowda said.

Asked whether schemes, including organic farming, launched by the BJP government would be continued, the Minister said that he had broadly reviewed the relevance of several schemes being implemented for the past several years.

“Organic farming is not a solution for ills grappling the farm sector. It is one of the farming methods adopted by farmers to reduce dependence on fertilizers,” he said.

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