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Panel to finalise report on agriculture before Budget

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A Committee of Governors, constituted by President Pratibha Patil, will finalise a report on revamping the agriculture sector before the forthcoming Budget, Christy Fernandes, secretary to the President, said today.

The report will help both the Finance Minister and the Planning Commission to come up with right policies and programmes for the agriculture sector, he said.

"We are keen to finalise the report before Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee presents the Budget and much before the Planning Commission finalises the 12th Five-Year Plan strategy," Fernandes told reporters here.

Punjab and Rajasthan Governor Shivraj V Patil-led committee will consider all suggestions that have emerged at the day-long high-level workshop on agriculture held yesterday, he added.

The Budget for the 2012-13 fiscal is scheduled to be presented on March 16. Fernandes said the report will have recommendations for improving the agricultural sector - from farm to market level - to ensure that the rising food demand is met with the implementation of the National Food Security Bill.

"With the (enactment) of Food Security Bill, demand for food is certainly going to be much more... We cannot depend on imports. To overcome that we have to enhance domestic production, with special focus on rain-fed areas," he said.

To ensure the panel's suggestions are implemented by the government, Fernandes said: "We hope to propose formation of a group of ministers or the cabinet secretary to follow up."

On the workshop, which was initiated by the President, Fernandes said several suggestions were made.

They included putting emphasise on market-led agriculture strategy, reforming agri-markets, financial incentives for boosting private investment and converging various programmes.

The committee has representation of 15 governors from states such as Punjab, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

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