Disappointed with lacklustre prices, farmers could scale back cotton acreage by 10% this year. They could shift to more profitable crops like guar and groundnut, say agriculture department officials in five major cotton-growing states. Cotton forms a third of India's farm Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the textiles industry is the country's largest employer in the manufacturing sector. India is the world's second largest producer, exporter and consumer of cotton. "Cotton sowing will fall this year by 10% across India as farmers have not got higher returns when compared to the previous year," said Cotton Association of India president Dhiren N Sheth. He said a stable export policy could help keep acreage stable and provide remunerative prices to farmers.
The Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) for 2012-13 may touch Rs 5.2 lakh crore, with an increase of more than 18 per cent over the current fiscal year.This includes both Central assistance to the States and allocation to various Central Ministries. According to a source, there is also a move to classify the increase in allocation under three categories.“Ministries with very high priority flagship programs will get more. In fact, you may see the reflection of the political manifesto (in the allocations),” the source added. The GBS and the allocation will be announced in the General Budget to be tabled on March 16.With the increase in GBS, the Government may be hoping to build the impression of a turnaround in the economy. Increasing expenditure will also build confidence among investors which, in turn, will facilitate growth, the source said. He added that in terms of increase in allocation, the Ministries could be divided into three categories.
The Cabinet Committee for Economic Affairs has approved the National Dairy Development Board's ambitious National Dairy Plan for the 12th Five-Year Plan starting this year. The government will launch this countrywide plan with an outlay of Rs 1,760 crore. International Development Association will provide Rs 1,584 crore towards the project and the rest Rs 176 crore will come from the Union government. "The cabinet panel has given its clearance to the long-awaited project. However, due to the election code of conduct in various states, a formal announcement has not been made," says an official in the know of things. The project aims at boosting milk production using scientific breeding and feeding programs covering about 2.7 million milch animals in 40,000 villages. It will also focus on modernizing village-level infrastructure for milk collection and bulking such as milk cans, bulk milk coolers for a cluster of villages, associated weighing and testing equipment and related IT equipment.
By 2022, over 700 million Indians of working age will be seeking to earn a livelihood. Of these, only 200 million would be graduates. The rest will be left with a question mark over their education qualifications and skills. Traditionally, skill development has been government-driven with different approaches adopted by industry and states. Skills training courses were perceived as being intended for those who could not make it in the formal system, and did not carry any aspirational value. The skills space was supply-side intervention, with very little connect to demand and a lack of focus on outcomes. The likelihood of a person who entered a skill institute getting a job or becoming an entrepreneur was not determinable.
The world's largest annual organic products event, BioFach 2012, began here with a sharp focus on India and its products. “Millions of small and marginal farmers practice organic farming by default. This is because they do farming in rain-fed areas and cannot afford modern agriculture that encompasses using fertilizers and pesticides,” said Mr Asit Tripathy, Joint Secretary in the Union Ministry of Commerce. Changes were happening in Indian agriculture with mechanization, corporatization and contract farming, but in the last 10 years, the Indian Government has woken up to the potential of organic farming, he said. Indian organic products exports currently are valued at $400 million and the target was to top $1 billion by 2015.
The Congress' flagship programme, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, is facing a big cut in its budgetary grant for the first time since its launch in 2006.The budgetary support for the current financial year was a tad lower at Rs. 40,000 crore but the progress of the MGNREGS has been so bad that the UPA government is now set to slash the allocation for the job scheme for the poor for the 2012-13 financial year by 10 to 20 per cent.It is just a question of reconciling perceptions on the extent of deduction to be made. The Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), the Finance Ministry and the Planning Commission differ on the size of the cut, but all seem to be unanimous on allocating less for the MGNREGS given the government's adverse fiscal position.