The Centre will take a final decision on export of cotton and other agricultural produce such as wheat, rice, sugar and onion, at a high-level meeting on April 30, the Agriculture and Food Processing Industry Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, has said.
He personally felt that there should not be any restrictions on growers to sell their agricultural produce in any market, exports or otherwise, he told newspersons at Anand on Friday.
He said that 1.10 crore bales of cotton had already been exported this year before imposition of ban, compared to 54 lakh bales last year.
About 30 lakh bales of cotton stocks are still lying with the cotton producers and ginning mills, of which 20 lakh bales could still be exported due to slackened demand from textile mills. The cotton production this year was estimated at 3.50 crore bales against 3.30 crore bales last year.
The Centre had to ban cotton exports recently in view of the “sudden mischievous demand” for cotton exports from sectors other than textile mills and other users.
This ban, however, did not send the right signal to the international market as India could have been perceived as an “unreliable supplier”.
National Dairy Plan launched
Earlier, Mr Pawar launched the first phase of National Dairy Plan (NDP) with an outlay of Rs 2,242 crore at the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) headquarters at Anand.
Drafted by the NDDB, the “second White Revolution” has a total outlay of Rs 17,300 crore to increase milk production over the next 15 years from the existing 122.8 million tonnes (mt) to 200 mt by 2021-22 in 14 major milk producing States.
The central sector scheme would be largely financed by the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank with an assistance of Rs 1,500 crore. The Centre would contribute Rs 175 crore and the balance would come from the beneficiary States. Mr Pawar regretted that the cooperative sector in milk production has weakened, particularly in the northern States as 70 per cent of milk production was now controlled by the private sector. Under the NDP, the Centre planned to reverse this trend.
He said the Centre also planned to launch a second “Green Revolution” to increase agricultural production with a focus on Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Odisha and West Bengal.
Milch cattle issue
The Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, who was the Chief Guest, urged Mr Pawar to take up with the Centre the issue of the alleged “smuggling” of milch cattle to Bangladesh.
He termed it as the Centre’s “pink revolution” which could frustrate the goals of NDP and the proposed second Green Revolution as the Centre was giving a subsidy of more than Rs 2,242 crore, envisaged for the NDP-I, for the export of mutton.
However, Mr Pawar said the UPA Government had only continued the 20-year-old policy on mutton exports. No concessions have been given in this regard and a ban on slaughter of cow and its progeny continued.
Replying to questions, Mr Pawar said India would be able to export 40 lakh tonnes of wheat and 20 lakh tonnes of rice after meeting the entire domestic demand this year.