The alternative agriculture budget presented by the PMK has envisaged a second green revolution, according priority to increase production of millets, oilseeds and cereals cultivated mostly in arid regions.
Party founder Ramadoss, who released the budget on Wednesday, stressed the need for a second green revolution saying the first benefited only 35 per cent of the population and covered 35 per cent of lands that had good a irrigation system.
“Fifty per cent of India's landscape is dependant on rain-fed farming and negligence of these regions has led to scarcity in food production and malnutrition. Schemes will be launched to increase the food production in these arid regions,” Dr. Ramadoss said.
Pointing out that the agricultural production, which witnessed 44 per cent growth rate in the 1960s, had now come down to 12 per cent, Dr. Ramadoss said if the trend was allowed to continue there would be scarcity and India forced to depend on exports.
He cited lack of workforce as a primary factor responsible for the situation and attributed the crisis to large-scale migration of agricultural labourers to cities. “Only elders in villagers, who cannot offer much of physical labour, are taking care of agriculture and this crisis can be overcome by industrialisation of agriculture production.”
Dr. Ramadoss rejected the argument that genetically modified crops were the need of the hour to overcome the problem of scarcity. Instead, the government should create a series of cold storage facilities so that surplus production could be kept for the lean period.
One of the important announcements in the budget was constitution of Farmers Income Commission, on the lines of pay commission for government employees at the national level and in Tamil Nadu.
“This is to ensure that every family involved in agriculture gets an annual income of Rs.25,000.”
It suggested creation of horticulture zones in peri-urban areas to supply fresh vegetables, green vegetables and flowers to cities. Distribution of greens along with milk pockets to all households was another suggestion.
The budget, with a plan outlay of Rs.7,030 crore for the sector, projected a 4 per cent growth.