Nagesh Prabhu

Chief Minister will submit it to Planning Commission during his Delhi visit

Plan formulated following a direction from

Prime Minister

Rs. 4,680 crore has been earmarked for Watershed Department

BANGALORE: To take advantage of a special farm package of Rs. 25,000 crore announced by the Centre for various States in the 11th Five Year Plan, the Government has prepared a draft plan of Rs. 9,146.5 crore for stepping up agricultural production and to add value to farm produce in the State.

The Department for Agriculture has prepared the draft plan following the direction of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had announced the special farm package for achieving the four per cent growth in the agricultural sector in the 11th Plan. Dr. Singh had discussed the farm sector issues with the Government during his visit to the State on August 4.

Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, who will visit New Delhi on September 10, would meet Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and submit the plan.

The Chief Minister would also call on Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar and discuss the plan and demand allocation made in the plan to the State, officials in the Agriculture Department told The Hindu.

The Agriculture Department had prepared the draft plan in consultation with Horticulture, Cooperation, Watershed and other allied departments. Under the plan, the Union and State governments would share the plan allocation in the ratio of 90:10. Though a detailed plan allocation to various departments connected to the farm sector was yet to be worked out, the sources said a large sum would be set aside for Watershed and Agriculture departments.

In the draft plan, Rs. 4,680 crore, the highest amount, had been earmarked for Watershed Department to tackle recurrent droughts in the State. A sum of Rs. 1,253 crore had been earmarked for Agriculture Department, Rs. 230 crore for Agricultural Marketing and Rs. 450 crore for the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore and Dharwad, Krishi Vijnana Kendras and other farm research institutes in the State, the sources said.

The Prime Minister had directed the Government to draw the operational plan for boosting farm sector growth by addressing the needs at the grassroots level. The Agriculture Department has formulated guidelines to prepare district-wise plans first and later a consolidated plan for the entire State. The district plans would come up with localised solutions for problems faced by the farm sector. The plans would adopt a “farm-centric” approach to enhance the net income of the farmers through the value addition and agro-processing, the official said.

A committee has been constituted in each district headed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the zilla panchayat to prepare the plan. The Chief Planning Officer of the zilla panchayat is the member secretary while officials of the Agriculture Department are members of the panel. The district plans would also emphasise on enhancing the institutional credit system as a large number of farmers committed suicide owing to the debt burden and the high rate of interest charged by moneylenders. As many as 1,514 farmers committed suicide from April 2003 to June 2007.

Based on the comments received from the Planning Commission on the draft plan, the Government would prepare a consolidated plan and submit to the commission and the Union Agriculture Ministry by early next month.

The commission and the Agriculture Ministry, however, would determine the allocation to the State, the sources pointed out.