Late monsoon worrying, will work with states: Agriculture Minister

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New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Monday said the delayed sowing in the country due to late arrival of monsoon was a matter of concern and the Central government will work with the states if a drought-like situation arises.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the State Agriculture Ministers Conference here, Tomar said there was a delay in the arrival of the monsoon but it would be too early to jump to any conclusion regarding a drought.

“We have reports that monsoon will be normal. In case, there is less rains or a drought-like situation, we will work jointly with states,” he said.

At the conference, some states raised the issues of lower rains this year and expressed concerns over its negative impact on farm output and subsequently on farm incomes.

Puducherry’s Agriculture Minister R. Kamalakannan said that the crop situation was not good due to delayed monsoons.

“We also asked the Central government to include tenant farmers in the crop insurance scheme to protect them from crop loss in the wake of poor rainfall,” he said.

On the possible negative impact on foodgrain output due to lower rainfall, Tomar said: “There is nothing to worry. We are working with the states.”

According to the Agriculture Ministry’s data, sowing was done on 234.33 lakh hectares of land till July 5 this year as against 319.68 lakh hectares during the corresponding period last year.

Private forecaster Skymet on Monday said the monsoon was expected to go weak in most of the part of the country, which can impact ongoing sowing work.

“After witnessing vigorous monsoon conditions for the last one week, the country is now heading towards break monsoon conditions,” it said in a statement.

“During such circumstances, monsoon goes weak over most parts of the country and heavy rains are only confined to the foothills of Himalayas, right from Uttarakhand to northeast India.”

Maharashtra’s Agriculture Minister Anil Bonde told Tomar that 151 talukas in the state were drought-affected last year but the farmers could not get the benefit of crop insurance scheme – Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana – due to higher threshold yield.

Himachal Pradesh’s Agriculture Minister Ram Lal Markanda said organic farming should be encouraged to help farmers to reduce input cost.

He also asked the Central government to formulate schemes keeping in mind the needs of individual states to make them effective.

Addressing the state ministers, Tomar said efforts should be made to increase crop remuneration by helping farmers in reducing input cost, increasing production and promoting exports.

“Farmers should be given proper price for their produce, agricultural marketing through e-NAM should be strengthened and agricultural exports should be increased,” he said.

He said farming can become profitable if small and marginal farmers were given access to technological solutions and research.

He said that the concerns over remuneration were still being discussed despite the government ensuring 50 per cent profit over the production cost in accordance with the M.S. Swaminathan Commission.

Tomar asked farmers to refrain from using excessive water during cultivation to help conserve water.

He urged states to create awareness among the farmers on water conservation practices through drip and sprinkler irrigation and water harvesting.

Farmers should test his soil regularly and there is a need to speed up the pace of organic farming, he added.

The PM KISAN, Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maan Dhan Yojana or Farmer Pension, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, organic farming, agriculture marketing and exports are among the issues on the agenda of the conference.

–IANS

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