Karnataka to use farm lands as equity in agri ventures (Lead)

December 1st, 2011 - 10:03 pm ICT by IANS  

State Bank of India Bangalore, Dec 1 (IANS) The Karnataka government would make a new law to use agricultural land as equity in agro-based ventures but ensure that farmers retain the land ownership, Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda said Thursday.

“We are making provisions in the Land Reforms Act to ensure agricultural lands can be used as equity in agro-based ventures with farmers retaining their ownership,” Gowda said at the state’s first ‘Global Agri-business and Food Processing Summit 2011′ here.

Assuring farmers that there would be no forcible acquisitions of their lands, Gowda said the state government would encourage farmers’ groups to set up processing industries and provide them financial assistance to participate in the novel initiative.

“The new policy of making farmers stakeholders in agri-business ventures while remaining owners of their lands has potential to generate around 300,000 direct jobs and 700,000 indirect jobs,” Gowda said in his address inaugurating the two-day summit at the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre (BIEC) on the city outskirts.

The state government has identified about 4,000 hectares from its land bank of about 100,000 acres across the state for setting up agri ventures with farmers and private firms as stakeholders.

“The mantra of the policy is sustainable and inclusive development through meaningful partnerships among farmers, traders and the corporate sector,” Gowda noted.

The country’s maiden agri-summit began on a promising note with the state government attracting over Rs.78,000-crore investment proposals from a lead bank and about 30 private players.

As the lead investor, the state-run State Bank of India (SBI) signed an agreement with the state government to invest Rs.40,000 crore in funding agri business projects in partnership with the private sector.

Among the leading firms which signed agreements to invest in the state are Srei Infrastructure Finance Ltd with Rs.15,000 crore in agri-business projects, Wadhawan Mega Infrastructure Ltd Rs.10,000 crore in corridor of excellence, knowledge hub and post-harvest infrastructure.

Similarly, Welspun Infratech Ltd plans to invest Rs.5,000 crore in agri-business infrastructure, Marg Ltd Rs.4,000 crore in agro-industrial clusters and agri infrastructure and Akshayakalpa Farms & Food Ltd Rs,1,000 crore in agri-based enterprise models, organic milk and milk products’ manufacturing units.

Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who was to inaugurate the summit, could not do so as he was pre-occupied with the parliament session in New Delhi.

Opposition leader in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, who was invited to preside over the inaugural session, too was absent for the same reason.

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd vice-chairman Anand Mahindra was the guest of honour at the opening session.

France, Israel and the Netherlands are among the leading countries participating in the summit to showcase their farming technologies and products.

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