State may just be 15 lakh tonnes short of target

Despite the severe drought, the fall in the State’s food production for 2012-13 may not be as bad as feared, according to Minister for Agriculture Umesh V. Katti.

“As against the target of producing 140 lakh tonnes, we may end up producing 125 lakh tonnes of foodgrains,” Mr. Katti told reporters after releasing the Agri Doctors’ Diary-2013 brought out by the Karnataka Agriculture Graduate Officers’ Association in Bangalore on Friday.

Of course, the State was in a better position the previous year as the food production had then touched 132 lakh tonnes, he pointed out.

Pointing out that 144 taluks of the 175 in the State suffered the onslaught of the drought, he said: “The food production level is certainly satisfactory given the adverse conditions that gripped the State.”

Mr. Katti hailed the farmers and officials of the Agriculture Department for this. “Some of the steps taken by us, such as convincing farmers to re-sow the seeds in the places where the sown seeds had dried up, and backing up such re-sowing with subsidy support played a big role in stabilising food production,” he said. Similarly, schemes such as Bhoochetana also contributed in maintaining the food production, he said.

Earlier, participating at the diary release, the Minister said he had sought a total budgetary allocation of about Rs. 2,600 crore for the Agriculture Department in the State Budget-2013.

Package for Dalits

He said he had also proposed to the Chief Minister to allow the Agriculture Department to implement a comprehensive scheme for Dalits. Pointing out that Dalit welfare schemes related to agriculture and basic infrastructure were being implemented by several departments, he said his department wanted to combine all these schemes and cover at least three lakh Dalits a year. This would include providing an Ashraya house, cattle, free bore well, drip irrigation system and training them on modern agricultural practices.

In or out of KJP?

Mr. Katti, who was once a prominent member in the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa’s camp, hinted he may not join the Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) after all. When presspersons asked him if he was joining the KJP, he said: “People say a lot of things about me. Some say I am joining the KJP, others say I will join the Congress, and there are some who believe that I will join the Janata Dal (Secular). But I want to tell you that I am presently in the BJP.” When repeatedly asked, he said any political decision would be taken after the presentation of the budget.