No central status for agriculture universities: Pawar

November 26th, 2008 - 10:18 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 26 (IANS) Existing state agriculture universities would not get the central university status and the states would have to continue to fund them, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said here Wednesday.”We already have one central university for the northeast (at Imphal). The agriculture universities already get funds from the states and also from the central government. But I don’t think there is need for it,” Pawar told the Economic Editors’ Conference here.

As state governments want to wash their hands of from funding these institutions, the central university status is being viewed as the only way out for them. Almost every state has its own agriculture university.

Punjab, for example, has refused to give additional funds demanded by the Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) in Ludhiana. The PAU has also suggested levying 50 paise tax on every bag of wheat and rice procured in the state to raise funds for it, but the state government has turned down the proposal and asked it to look for its own fund-raising avenues.

Meanwhile, Pawar said the recently launched schemes on food grain production have resulted in wheat and rice production growing by about three million tonnes each in the last one year.

The government had initiated projects like the National Food Security Mission (NFSM) and the Rastriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).

NFSM was launched in 2007-08 to enhance the production of rice, wheat and pulses. “The focused and target-oriented implementation of mission initiatives in the first year itself has resulted in bumper production of wheat, rice and pulses,” said the minister.

According to figures available, the production of wheat has increased from 75.81 million tonnes in 2006-07 to 78.40 million tonnes during 2007-08. The total production of rice has increased from 93.35 million tonnes to 96.43 million tonnes.

Also the total production of pulses has increased from 14.20 million tonnes to 15.11 million tonnes during the same period.

During 2008-09, as per the advance estimates and further assessment, the production of kharif foodgrains is expected to be little less than last kharif. However, the area being sown in the current rabi season indicates that the loss in kharif will be more than compensated, the minister said.

“We have already disbursed Rs.1,090 billion while Rs.110 billion is yet to be disbursed,” Pawar pointed out and said there was no shortage of fertilizers in the country.

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