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Niti Aayog taking states’ views on agriculture

Some of the Aayog’s recommendations could find their way into the Budget considering the Prime Minister is prioritising agriculture

February 09, 2016 02:23 pm | Updated 02:24 pm IST - New Delhi

The government’s main policy think-tank Niti Aayog is taking the views of various state governments on key recommendations made in its recent paper on agriculture, including on genetically modified (GM) crops.

The paper titled ‘Raising Agricultural Productivity and Making Farming Remunerative for Farmers’ has identified five issues confronting agriculture and made key recommendations to help bring about a second Green Revolution in India and sustain robust growth in agriculture.

“Niti Aayog is holding regional conferences on the key recommendations made in the paper. It has already held one for western region in Ahmedabad and is planning to have a dialogue with other states in the coming weeks,” sources said.

The state governments’ views are being taken as it is likely that some of the recommendations could find their way in the Budget considering the Prime Minister is prioritising agriculture and rural development, the sources added.

The paper has suggested measures necessary to raise productivity, policies ensuring remunerative prices for farmers, reforms necessary in the area of land leasing and titles, a mechanism to bring quick relief to farmers hit by natural disasters, and initiatives necessary to spread Green Revolution to eastern states.

“As a part of its strategy to bring a Second Green Revolution, India must return to permitting proven and well-tested GM technologies with adequate safeguards.

Additionally, India urgently needs technological breakthrough in oilseeds and pulses,” it said.

The country’s dependence on imports for meeting domestic demand for edible oils has risen to 70 per cent. Even if India doubles its current level of oilseed production, the import dependence will remain at 40 per cent level. The situation is worse in pulses, it said.

“Recognising the general sensitivity to permitting multinationals to sell GM seeds, it may be prudent for the government to proceed with domestically sourced GM seeds only.

Luckily, Indian scientists and institutions have been active and successful in this area,” the paper suggested.

The success of Bt cotton in India and many more GM seeds elsewhere in the world testifies to the potential of GM technology in giving a major boost to productivity in agriculture, it added.

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