New Delhi: Faced with labour shortage after
the rural employment guarantee scheme, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar Wednesday announced that the government plans to launch a mega programme in the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17)
for mechanisation of the farming sector.
He expressed the confidence that the country`s foodgrains
production in the 2011-12 crop year would surpass the previous
year`s record of 241.56 million tonnes and said four per cent
targeted growth in the farm sector will be achieved.
Addressing the Economic Editors` Conference, Pawar said,
"With successful implementation of MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi
National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and other anti-
poverty programmes of the government, there is now pressure on
availability of farm labour.
"While we are attempting to innovatively utilise MGNREGA
for augmenting activities that directly add to farm
productivity, for compensating scarcity of labour, I am
proposing a large programme for agricultural mechanisation
during the 12th Plan," he said.
Pawar said there is "nothing wrong" if rural population
was getting better wages under the MGNREGA, but underlined
that the farm sector would have to find some alternative to
deal with the labour problem.
"Whenever I go to any state and discuss with Chief
Ministers, one general complaint I keep hearing about is non-
availability of labour, particularly, at the time of sowing
"So, in that period, we have to see there is availability of labour and if it is not there...We have to find some alternative mechanism," he said.
Citing the example of farming of sugarcane wherein a
large number of labourers are required at the time of
harvesting, Pawar said many states had requested for
introduction of sugarcane harvester.
On production outlook for 2011-12 crop year (July-June),
Pawar said the monsoon had been very encouraging this year and
the country is estimated to have produced a record production
in the kharif season.
"We hope to see a substantial expansion in crop area and
to achieving record production in the coming Rabi season, too.
We are confident that we will be able to surpass our own
production record set last year," he said.
Pawar noted that the government`s strategies to
rejuvenate the agriculture sector "have been working well and
will now be able to achieve targeted four per cent growth".
He said the agriculture sector posted a 6.6 per cent
growth rate during the last fiscal and an average 3.2 per cent
in the current plan so far.
The minister, however, said that the country needs to
produce more to meet the rising domestic demand and this could
be achieved through raising the yield from existing area.