#Budget2010 : M.S. Swaminathan Likes The Budget

Published: Feb 26, 2010 04:13:20 PM IST
Updated: Feb 26, 2010 05:05:00 PM IST

M.S. Swaminathan, the agricultural scientist behind the Green Revolution, likes the budget:

"For first time, we are seeing an overall integrated approach to agriculture. There are provisions for cultivation, post harvest technology, commerce and conservation. To that extent, I would compliment the finance minister.

"The budget speaks about conservation of soil in states such as Punjab which were the heart of Green Revolution. The budget also talks about 60,000 pulses and oil seed villages, where technology will be used, demonstrated. I think. It will be a forerunner. During the Green Revolution, we had national demonstrations of how it will work. It led to a mass movement. I think this is a good beginning.

"The finance minister also added a fourth dimension (conservation, cultivation and commerce are the other three) to this: women farmers. Feminisation of agriculture is an important issue. The money he has allocated (Rs. 200 crore) is small. But I hope it's just the beginning. I see it as a recognition that as we go along there will be more support. And women in agriculture need more support. In Vidharba for example, there are women who have gone into farming, but without much support.

"He has also turned his attention on the eastern area — Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand etc. — and there is a lot of untapped production in these areas. This region is the sleeping giant of Indian agriculture.

"But again, the provision is small in relation to the need. But it could be used as seed money to integrate it with other schemes, with much larger outlay, national horticulture mission etc.

"About food inflation, government still has 45 million tonnes wheat and rice, and 20 million tonnes will be added soon. My concern is actually about storage. The storage conditions are not good. The government is aware of this, and it has given indication of this in budget outlay, duties and incentives to this area and so on.

"But state government also has a big role to play. They have to do the implementation. If that happens, we will see some revival in agriculture.

"Somewhere in the speech, he spoke about the importance of implementation and delivery. I think that's the key.

"On the whole, I think this has the seeds for agricultural renewal and renaissance. It takes a much broader view on agriculture.

"The greatest challenge is to bring all the schemes together, and to implement well. Finance minister is not writing thesis and he cannot spell out everything in his budget speech.

The budget is good for agriculture. How we use it, how we take it forward remains to be seen."

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