Mumbai: NCP president Sharad Pawar has turned blogger and in his maiden post sought to reply critics questioning his contribution as the agriculture minister.
"`What has Mr Sharad Pawar done in the field of agriculture?` or `what is Mr Sharad Pawar`s contribution to India`s agricultural growth?` Such verbal missiles are often targeted at me. Good questions. Let`s address them," the veteran leader said.
"Agriculture is an immensely complex proposition in a country known for its diversity," he said, adding that abundant diversity in soil and weather condition lead to variations in productivity from one region to another.
"Notwithstanding good production, the escalating import bills of pulses and edible oil have been a matter of concern. The tangle can be resolved by optimising the resources by way of better input supply, adoption of technology, extension and R&D, vigorous marketing and remunerative prices," he said.
"I also believe that the scientific community should be given greater autonomy. This would enable scientists to make farming a viable proposition," the minister said.
"When UPA-1 assumed office, I volunteered to take charge of the agriculture portfolio as I had a blueprint in my mind to enhance the food yield in the country. The country`s food grain production stood in the range of 200 million tonnes, barely sufficient to meet the domestic requirement," he said.
NCP`s revamped website, on which the blog has been posted, was launched this evening by Union Minister Praful Patel, who said the party had decided to make use of social media to reach out to people.
"With almost 260 million tonnes of record foodgrain production in 2011-12, Indian farmers have done us proud. When I took over as minister for agriculture, the foodgrain production barely touched 200 million tonnes with rice production stagnating at 90 million tonnes and wheat at 70 million tonnes," Pawar said.
Pawar said he was proud to note that foodgrain production has crossed 250 million.
"Today, I am proud to state that our tally of food grain production has touched the 250 million-plus tonnes mark with rice pegged at 100 million-plus tonnes and wheat at 90 million-plus tonnes."
"The cotton yield has doubled to 35 million bales and pulses are a bit above 18 million tonnes. The milk production has jacked up from 90 million tonnes (when I assumed charge of the ministry) to 130 million tonnes."
"Today, India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables. I am of the firm view that we could achieve this because of the tremendous efforts of our farmers, a whopping 82 per cent of who are small and marginal farmers with less than two hectares of land holding," said the maratha strongman whose political career spans over five decades.
Add to this, the pro-farmer policies of the UPA government and support from the state governments.
"I am particularly happy that my decision to launch `Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India` (BGREI), promptly backed by the then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, has been a great success. Today, more than 50 per cent of the rice production is from BGREI states," Pawar said.
"While addressing Parliament, the President appreciated our efforts, saying that there are reasons to cheer on the agriculture front," he said.