Pawar rules out drought situation

Says situation in Ktaka, AP, Mrashtra worrisome

Pawar rules out drought situation

Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Monday said that though the monsoon deficit continues at 23 per cent in the country, there was no drought like situation as yet. He, however, said 23 districts in Karnataka were facing drought.

As a precautionary measure, the Centre was ready with the contingency plan to deal with the situation, the minister told reporters on the sidelines of 84th Foundation Day of the Indian Council of Agriculture Research here.

Apprehending that the weak monsoon may pose a challenge to sustaining high growth in food grain output this year, he said situation may improve as the sowing of paddy, a key kharif crop, continues in Punjab, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal and Assam that have received good rains.

The minister said the situation in Karnataka and parts of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh are serious. About 23 districts in Karnataka are facing drought as the monsoon continues to play truant in the State. Karnataka and Maharashtra have devised a contingency plan to help farmers deal with the situation, he added.

With the good monsoon in the past two years, the country has witnessed a bumper food grain harvest with output touching a record high of 252 million tonnes in 2011-12. However, this year due to deficit rain, sowing of paddy and coarse grains was hit severely.

Pawar said due to record foodgrain production in the last two years, the country has exported five million tonnes of non-basmati rice, 1.5 million tonnes of wheat, 2.5 million tonnes of sugar and 11.5 million bales of cotton this year. Answering a query, he said there is no need to review the current export policy on food grains as the country has ample stocks of rice and wheat.

The agriculture sector grew at 3.3 per cent in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2007-12) and the government is targeting to achieve 4 per cent growth in the current plan.

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