National Food Security Mission
The Indian Government has launched a new scheme, National Food Security Mission (NFSM) from Rabi, 2007- 2008. Presently, this Scheme is in operation in 311 districts of 17 States. The NFSM aims to enhance the production of rice, wheat and pulses by 10, 8 and 2 million tons respectively, by 2011-12. The NFSM-Rice is in operation in 136 districts of 14 states, dominantly in Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and Orissa, while the NFSM-Wheat is in operation in 141 districts in 9 states, dominantly in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The NFSM –Pulses is in operation in 170 districts of 14 states. The districts for the implementation of NFSM have been identified based on specific criteria. For NFSM-Rice, districts which have more than 50,000 hectares under rice and productivity less than the state average were identified. For NFSM-Wheat, districts with irrigation coverage more than 50 percent under wheat and productivity less than the state average were marked. Similarly, for NFSM-Pulses, existing large areas under pulse cultivation, potential for area expansion through inter cropping, replacement of rainfed upland paddy, rice fallow and irrigated area under crops were taken into consideration for identification of districts.
FOODGRAINS for BIO FUEL
India expressed concern at the increasing use of food grains for production of bio-fuels at the `Third International Grain Summit-2008` at Sharm-EI-Sheikh, Egypt which has resulted into unprecedented increase in the prices of food grains making food unaffordable for poor populations of the world. The household consumption requirement of rice and wheat during 2007-08 in India is estimated at 89.47 million tons and 68.59 million tons against which production of rice and wheat is estimated at 95.68 and 76.78 million tons respectively (3rd Advance Estimates, 2007-2008) thereby indicating adequate availability of rice and wheat at present. NFSM aims to enhance the production of rice, wheat and pulses so as to ensure food security in the country. Besides, Integrated Cereal Development Programmes under Macro Management and Integrated Scheme of Oilseeds, Pulses, Oilpalm and Maize (ISOPOM) are also in operation to enhance the production of cereals and pulses in the country. The total food grains production during 2005-06 was 208.6 million tons which increased progressively during successive years to a level of 217.28 million tons during 2006-07 and 227.32 million tons during 2007-08 (3rd Advance Estimates). Although there is no short term apprehension about food grain shortfall in the country, records worldwide show the imminent danger of augmenting food grains for bio fuels. In a starvation prone nation any step to introduce bio fuels through food grains need to be viewed with caution.
Combating Statewide AVIAN EPIDEMIC
In the event of the highly pathogenic, avain flu epidemic, state governments such as Maharashtra and West Bengal have examined the impact. Data of the avian influenza (HPAI) have also been compiled by other states. In order to provide economic relief to the poultry farmers /sector adversely affected due to occurrence of HPAI, the Reserve Bank of India has issued guidelines to all scheduled commercial banks for moratorium up to one year on the repayment of working capital loans, interest due and outstanding term loans, conversion of working capital loans and interest due into term loans and provision of need based fresh finance. National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development has also issued similar guidelines to all State Cooperative Banks, State Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Banks and Regional Rural Banks.
New Wheat virus
In a recent development the Government’s attention has been drawn to a warning issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations that a rapidly spreading virus Ug-99, an African race of black (stem) rust fungus of wheat, capable of destroying entire fields, could wreak havoc in India. Accordingly, a vigil is being kept on the movement of this race by Directorate of Wheat Research, Karnal, through international collaborations. Indian Council of Agricultural Research, in collaboration with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), Mexico has taken steps to identify varieties possessing resistance against the new race of the stem rust fungus. A regular surveillance for pest and disease emergence in the country is conducted to take emergency measures. Also, the quarantine regulatory system in the country prevents the introduction and spread of exotic pests and diseases that are destructive to crops by regulating/restricting the import of plant material and plant products. Post entry quarantine inspection is undertaken to ensure that imported plant material is free from any pests and diseases. According to experts, though effect, speed and route of the fungus are unpredictable, it is only an apprehension at present.
Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Budget Session 2008