Our Bureau

Mangalore, March 16

THE Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) has urged the Union Government to set up a $20-billion fund to improve agriculture infrastructure in the country.

Addressing newspersons here on Wednesday, Mr Babasaheb Kathwale, BKS General Secretary, said that the investment in agriculture is decreasing every year. Of the more than 100 major irrigation projects envisaged during the tenure of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, only 28 have been completed. The rest could not be completed due to lack of finance.

He said that a chain of warehouses to prevent post-harvest loss of agriculture crops and a chain of cold storage units to protect perishable articles such as vegetables, fruits and dairy products are essential to increase agriculture productivity in the county. These warehouses and cold storage units should be properly connected to villages through a good road network.

The Government should also give attention for the development of rural road network in the country.

Stating that a huge investment is needed for taking up these activities, he said the Government, in its 10th Plan outlay, has admitted the fact the public investment in agriculture is decreasing every year. In such a situation, it is essential for the Government to set up a $20-billion `Kisan Vikas Kosh' for the development of agriculture infrastructure in the country, he said.

Mr Kathwale said that the Government's move to abolish Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMC) Act might give undue advantage to multinational companies in the agriculture market. A limit should be fixed for MNCs on the purchase of agriculture products.

He said the Centre has expressed its intention to withdraw minimum support price for major agriculture commodities such as wheat and paddy, and urged it not to withdraw MSP for any agriculture commodity.

Mr Kathwale said that the amendment to the Patents Act will deny the rights of farmers to save seeds for personal cultivation.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 17, 2005)
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