All-time high 252 mln ton grain prod in 2011-12

New Delhi: India will have a all-time high foodgrain production of over 252 million tons in 2011-12 with a record output of wheat, rice and cotton, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said today.

Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour in Rajya Sabha, he said the record foodgrain production of 252.56 million tons would be higher than 235.88 million tons output in 2010-11.

"Production of wheat, rice and cotton have broken 60 year record," he said. Wheat production is expected to be a record 90.23 million tons against 84.27 million tons last year, while rice output is likely to be 103.41 million tons compared to 94.11 million tons in 2010-11.

Cotton production at 35.2 million bales (of 170 kg each) will be higher than 33.9 million bales last year. Pawar said a committee of eminent industrialists like Mukesh Ambani, Jamshyd Godrej and M S Banga had given 15 recommendations including liberalising agri-procurement, streamlining norms for private investment in agriculture supply chain and revisiting Minimum Support Price (MSP) norms.

While it is argued that the involvement of private sector was expected to give fillip to the agri sector, he said the government is opposed to private companies taking land ownership for cultivation.

"It is endeavour of the government to protest ownership interest of farmers," he said adding the government would not support suggestions like giving agriculture land on lease to private firms for cultivation of cash crops.

The committee of industrialists had also suggested linking agri-credit with crop insurance, increasing competition in rural banking, promoting R&D investments in high-yielding hybrids, promoting sustainable agricultural practices, leveraging and promoting technical innovations, conducting land reforms in a phased manner and setting up of agricultural parks.