Can NITI Ayog replace Planning Commission? Regional Consultation and Task Force on Agricultural Development
The Taskforce on Agricultural Development led by the Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog Dr. Arvind Panagariya held a consultation meeting with Southern States in Bengalaru today. Representatives from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Telangana, Puducherry, A&N Island, Lakshadweep attended the deliberations. The Task force was constituted in March, 2015 by NITI Aayog to operationalize the decisions taken in the first meeting of NITIâ€™s Governing Council in February last year.
The meeting was presided over by the Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog, Dr. Arvind Panagariya, The representatives from the southern states appreciated the efforts of the NITI Aayog and favorably pitched for the preparation of model land leasing act by NITI Aayog and other interventions for raising productivity and remunerative prices for the farmers. The States like Andhra Pradesh favored for better risk adaptation mechanism and farmer led extension. States also shared their best practices in the area of agriculture &water resources. Increasing employment in Agriculture with remunerative prices of their produce was emphasized upon by various States. River linking and water conservation and harvesting was also discussed. The strengthening of agricultural co-operatives was also emphasized.
The States were represented by Senior Officers including Chief Secretaries, Additional Chief Secretaries, Principal Secretaries of Agriculture and Allied Sectors, Directors and other Senior Officersâ€™ of State Departments. Adviser (Agri.), NITI Aayog made presentation on recommendations of the NITI Aayog’s Task Force Report on Agricultural Development.
The Taskforce on Agricultural Development was set up on 16th March, 2015 by NITI Aayog to operationalize the decision taken in the first meeting of NITIâ€™s Governing Council held on 8th February, 2015 under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister.
Dr. Arvind Panagariya, Vice Chairman NITI Aayog is the Chairman of the Task Force. The Task Force held consultations with various stakeholders such as experts, farmers & farmerâ€™s representatives, scientists, activist and NGOs. An occasional paper on â€˜Raising Agricultural Productivity and Making Farming Remunerative for Farmersâ€™ has been prepared and put in public domain. It can be accessed on the web-site of the NITI Aayog (www.niti.gov.in). The Task Force has now started consultations with the States and Union Territories to seek their inputs/suggestions and finalize the Report. The first meeting with Central and Western States was held on 5th February, 2015 at Gandhinagar.
The meetings of the task force assume significance in the backdrop of the fact that agriculture and allied activities employ about 49% of the nationsâ€™ total workforce. However, this sector accounts for only 14% of the GDP indicating the dependence of a large worker population on a relatively small income. It implies that rejuvenation of agriculture is essential to provide relief to the vast population.
This calls for new initiatives to address the issue of low and declining water tables, chronic water stresses in parts of southern, central and western India and bringing Green Revolution to eastern states and rain-fed regions. At the same time, for diversification beyond crops into horticulture, vegetables, livestock, poultry and fisheries, higher water use efficiency followed by the enhanced investment in seeds would also be required. Besides, there are continuing issues like achieving efficiency in fertilizer use (NPK balance) and improve soil health via soil analysis, soil health cards, soil health campaigns and reforming fertilizer subsidy.
Investment and reforms in agricultural research and extension and agricultural marketing are also important. Access to credit and other government support to tenants through a transparent and credible land leasing act along with safeguarding the rights of the land owner are also included in the Task Forceâ€™s occasional paper.