Pawar back at Krishi Bhavan with new agro focus

May 25th, 2009 - 6:39 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) Sharad Chandra Govindrao Pawar was back at Krishi Bhavan here Monday as the cabinet minister in charge of agriculture, food, public distribution and consumer affairs - the same portfolios he had held in the previous government.

He got down to work, presiding over a meeting with key officials, during which he called for a second green revolution in the country - an initiative in mid-1970s and 1980s that combined irrigation and better seeds to make India self-sufficient in food production.

The 68-year-old Pawar, who represents Madha in Maharashtra in the Lok Sabha and has been chief minister of the state for four terms, said the measures must ensure enhanced productivity.

Food grain output in India was at a new high of 230.67 million tonnes in the 2007-08 season and estimates suggest that this year, it will be even higher, thanks to high rice production.

Addressing reporters soon after taking formal charge of the ministry, Pawar said his new area of focus was on dairy and fisheries, while ensuring much better access to credit for farmers at affordable cost.

“Dairy and fisheries will not only provide new sources of funds for small farmers, but also help in creating additional employment in rural areas,” said Pawar, who lists his profession as agriculturist.

The minister said the farm loan waiver programme of the previous government - of over Rs.70,000 crore (Rs.700 billion) - had gone a long way in addressing the miseries of some 40 million people in the hinterland.

“But 40 percent of our farmers are still outside the organised credit system and need support. The cost of credit also is no doubt among the lowest in the world. Yet, there is scope for reduction.”

Pawar also expressed concern over high sugar prices prevailing in the country and said a meeting would be held Tuesday among all stakeholders on how to address the situation.

Asked specifically when he intended to end the ongoing ban on export of rice and wheat, the minister replied: “I am in no hurry. We will assess the situation and take a decision as and when the time is appropriate.”

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