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India to Focus on Farm Mechanisation for Higher Production
Source: asianewsnet.net
Source Date: Monday, October 31, 2011
Focus: Citizen Engagement
Country: India
Created: Oct 31, 2011

The Indian government’s focus in the 12th Plan will be “mechanisation of agriculture” to match the growing need for higher production of foodgrain and to tackle labour shortage in the farm sector. The government is targeting around six per cent annual growth in foodgrain yields.

“To keep pace with the present population growth and consumption pattern, an average 6-7 per cent annual growth in foodgrain production can be targeted. But with the labour shortage especially during sowing and harvesting this can be achieved only by farm mechanisation,” an official said.

The government has been trying to push for mechanisation since 2005, but so far the initiative has been on a small scale. “With a view to enhance the pace of agricultural mechanisation, the government has stressed on providing financial assistance to farmers and other target groups for purchase of different kinds of farm equipment, demonstration of new equipment for spread of new technology, human resource development in operation,” the official said.

This would get a renewed thrust in the 12th Plan, he said, adding that with successful implementation of MG-NREGA and other anti-poverty programmes there is “now pressure on availability of farm labour”.

India's agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar, has made a pitch for innovatively utilising MG-NREGA to augment activities that add to farm productivity. During the recently held Economic Editors’ conference, Pawar had said that whenever he goes to states and discusses issues with chief ministers, a general complaint is about “non-availability of labour, particularly, at the time of sowing and harvesting”.

Agricultural mechanisation is being stressed upon to achieve sustainable increase in yields and cropping intensity so that planned growth rates in agricultural production are achieved and maintained.

The Farm Machinery Training & Testing Institutes at Budni (MP), Hissar (Haryana), Garladinne (Andhra) and Bishwanath Chariali (Assam) established by the government have been playing an important role so far.

Sources said from a mere 51 metric tons production in 1951-52, India has come a long way in attaining self sufficiency in foodgrain production and a buffer stock.

India's food-grain production in the 2011-12 crop year would surpass the previous year’s record of 241.56 million tons and four per cent targeted growth in the farm sector is likely to be achieved.

“But the challenges remain. Millions of additional jobs need to be created every year in the rural areas. Therefore, in the coming years, agricultural engineering has to play a major role in increasing the production and productivity, minimising losses at production and post-production levels, creating avenues for value-adding to the agricultural produce at catchment levels,” an official said.
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