Proper agriculture policy must to boost farm output
Thursday, 15 May 2008

There was a time when Bengal used to produce more food than its population needed. With population growing at a brisk pace and agriculture not getting the attention it deserves, the scenario has changed radically. If a recent study is any indication, a large section of our people suffer from calorie needs. The report says it is 32 per cent but common sense says it is much higher these days because of the abnormally high prices and dwindling supplies.  Hence, agriculture should be given top priority in the next year’s budget from the point of present-day global perspective where food and essentials are going to be costlier than ever before. The government machinery is now busy determining the extent of agriculture subsidy. The Finance Adviser would also consider increasing endowment fund for agriculture research and extending tax holiday facility for the poultry sector from the perspective of overall tax exemption measures.  Economic jargons like GDP carry little real life reflections. It would be wrong to estimate the purchasing capacity on the basis of per capita income. With the kind of food prices now ruling, it is possible that more than 50 per cent of the population suffers from calorie needs and many from acute malnutrition also.  On the other hand, we just cannot make up the crop losses by importing food items. Many factors have pushed international prices to levels where we just cannot afford to import freely. That means farm production shall have to be increased at any cost. Feeding 150 million people is not an easy task. Since we lack resources to import, everything possible should be done to reach self-sufficiency in food. A well-planned and properly executed agriculture policy is the only way out. Optimum land utilization, changing copping patterns if necessary and making inputs readily available can change the scenario totally.

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