Special Correspondent

To be set up on the lines of the National Dairy Development Board in a couple of months

Proposal cleared by the Planning CommissionBoard to give financial help to fishermenConfident of achieving 3 per cent growth in agriculture

CHENNAI: Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said on Monday that a National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) would be set up on the lines of the National Dairy Development Board in a couple of months .

Shortly after inaugurating an interactive session with representatives of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors here, Mr. Pawar told reporters that the proposal had been cleared by the Planning Commission.

The proposed board would give financial help to fishermen to improve their boats and nets. It would set up processing industries and a cold-chain, besides improving the infrastructure for effective marketing.

To a question, Mr. Pawar said the board would be established in the State which offered more facilities.

Despite the tsunami, the country was able to maintain normal production and export of fish as the loss was compensated by other areas.

Export bottlenecks

On the export bottlenecks the Minister said there were some problems such as the recent imposition of anti-dumping duty on Indian shrimp exported to the U.S. "We have to see how we find a solution to these problems."

Asked about his optimism of achieving 3.5 per cent growth in agriculture, Mr. Pawar said that initially there was a minor setback this year due to the floods.

However, the feedback from the States indicated a good foodgrains production and the growth would definitely be above three per cent.

Contract farming encouraged

He said the Centre had been encouraging contract farming and most State Governments had amended the Agricultural Produce Marketing Act for the purpose. Under the system, land would be owned and cultivated by farmers.

The contractor could provide seeds, besides guaranteeing to purchase the produce.

Food subsidy

To a question, Mr. Pawar said the Centre would decide on reducing the food subsidy, more particularly for the above-the-poverty line sections, only in consultation with political parties.