A new law for protecting farm lands and using them exclusively for farming and a separate budget for agriculture are among the recommendations of the draft Agriculture Development Policy 2013 tabled in the Assembly on Thursday.
The draft policy - which is centred on food security - recommends that the area under rice cultivation should be upped from 2.13 lakh hectares to three lakh hectares in the next five years, targeting a production of 12 lakh tonnes at four tonnes per hectare.
Additionally, the paddy land area required for availing financial assistance for paddy cultivation should be increased from two hectares to five hectares.
The draft policy suggests that farm land should not be used except for farming or for government use. The farmer can build his house on such land. But if the land is being converted for government use, substitute land of equal area should be brought under agriculture elsewhere. For this, a new law is essential, the draft says. The Revenue Department has been asked to classify land as ‘Green’, ‘Pink’ and ‘Brown’ zones. Green zones are to be set apart for farming, ‘Pink’ for residential purposes and ‘Brown’ land for industrial use. Under no circumstances should ‘Green’ land be converted for other purposes, and this calls for the framing of a law, says the draft.
The policy also demands the implementation of the Paddy and Wetland Protection Act 2008 in its true spirit ‘on a war-footing.’ Additionally, the policy encourages the leasing out of land for farming purposes.
Calling for a separate ‘Agriculture Budget’, the draft notes that its presentation should be based on the agriculture calendar rather than the financial year.