Pawar calls for larger private sector role in agriculture

Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has called for a larger private sector role in agriculture during the 12th Plan (2012-17) period to sustain the high growth in foodgrain production.

Addressing the National Development Council yesterday, Pawar said the public-private partnership (PPP) model in agriculture needed to be explored on a wider and larger scale.

Higher investments in agriculture and allied sectors, including irrigation, would help ensure food security besides boosting incomes, he said. Also, the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Acts needed to be amended for encourage the setting up private markets and contract farming, he said.

Fears about foreign direct investments in retail rendering APMCs redundant were misplaced, he said, adding, it would rather enhance the role of APMCs from a regulatory focus to promotion of grading, branding, packaging and development of markets for local produce.

According to the agriculture minister, the oilseed sector continued to be an area of concern with the country's dependence on imports of edible oil rising.

To overcome the technology fatigue in the farm sector, he said, his ministry would be taking up a number of new initiatives to foster innovation, encourage research, attract and retain youth in agriculture.