State to open agriculture sector to private players

State to open agriculture sector to private players

The State government is opening entry of private players in the agriculture sector with three major projects including soil testing programme to provide crop specific advisory to farmers being taken up in public private partnership (PPP) mode during the coming months.

Replying to a discussion on the budget proposal for 2014-15 for the agricultural sector, in the Legislative Assembly, Minister of State for Agriculture Krishna Byre Gowda said the government will rope in private players to provide “soil health card” to farmers.

The card will carry crop-wise recommendations of fertilisers required for farms to help farmers improve productivity.

The project will be taken up on a mission mode and 32 lakh soil samples will be tested in the next three years, he said.  A sum of Rs 80 crore has been earmarked for the project.

Hiring centres

Gowda said the government will open “custom hiring centres” in every assembly constituency wherein farmers can hire mechanised farm equipment like tractors, cultivators and tillers at nominal rent.

The project will be taken on PPP mode and the government had initiated the scheme to help small and marginal farmers gain access to high cost mechanised farm equipment, he said.  
During the first year, the government will chip in Rs 37.5 lakh per centre and the private payer will have to provide Rs 12.5 lakh. 

“During the second year 50 per cent of the running cost of the centres will be provided by the government. From the third financial year, these centres need to be self sustaining”, Byregowda said.

The programme will cost the State Exchequer Rs 144 crore during the next two years.
“To start with, the centres will be opened at the assembly constituency level and at hobli level during the second phase.”

 The types of mechanised farm equipment that need to be purchased and rentals would be decided by a panel comprising representatives of local farmers.

According to sources as many as eight companies have bagged the contracts for the first batch of 186  centres in the State. Another PPP based project would be expansion and modernisation of warehouses given the increased demand of storage of agricultural and horticultural produce.

While the present storage capacity in the State in 30 lakh tonne, the requirement by 2025 would be 65 lakh tonne, he pointed out.

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