The Agriculture Ministry recently released the first advance estimates for the Kharif season 2013-14. According to the report, food-grain output is pegged at 129.32 million tonnes. This is significantly higher than the last five-year average production of 116.78 million tonnes.
Assocham's president Rana Kapoor believes a strong trade policy, geared toward balancing exports and domestic food requirements will augment India's growth.
Assocham believes a good harvest will lead to the following benefits:
- Firm support for overall growth of agriculture sector, thus providing a fillip to the economy.
- Buffer from overall food inflation.
- Necessary capacity to implement the Food Security Act which seeks to provide food-grains to about 82 Crore people at subsidized prices.
- Reduce dependence on imports of pulses and oilseeds, thus positively affecting imports driven inflation.
Assocham believes stable agri-export policies will boost exports, thereby providing much needed forex to strengthen the Indian Rupee. We believe there is strong need for balanced, stable and consistent agri policies to reap the expected windfall in food-grain production.
North East - Fostering economic development and International ties through waterways
With a network of rivers crossing North Eastern states and difficulties faced in developing traditional land and railway networks in the region, Assocham calls for a focused approach to develop a Water Transport Development Strategy for North East India.
The strategy needs to focus on unleashing potential of the region for trade, commerce, tourism and strengthening cross-border relations. Food Corporation of India
is already looking at water transport for food grains to the region.
891 KM of the Brahmaputra (from Dhubri to Sadia) was declared National Waterway (NW) 2 in 1988 and 121 km. of Barak river in Assam
is under consideration for declaration as NW 6. The Indo-Bangladesh Protocol on Inland Water Transit & Trade routes (1,700 km) needs to be leveraged to optimize the potential of waterways.
Assocham calls for traditional, cost effective and environment friendly waterways as focused waterway development will unleash the enormous potential of the region. We would like to recommend the following:
- Develop National Waterways in the region in consensus with Bangladesh and Myanmar. Safety of feeder routes on waterways is important for sustainable trade and International tripartite agreements will help build trust and trade.
- Promote transportation via Kolkata, Kakinad and Ashuganj (Bangladesh) Ports to the North East, to integrate the region with the mainland and also bring in economic viability to sustain the project.
- Connect proposed multimodal hubs and identified 23 stretches of rivers through all-weather roads, railway lines and Greenfield airports.
Proposed capital investment in the North East region is Rs 15,500 Crore in order to develop comprehensive infrastructure including roads, rails, waterways and airports, among which inland waterways need Rs 10,000 Crore.
Assocham feels that development of waterways will permit greater transportation efficiencies in the region and also foster better regional ties with the South East Asian region.