"There is no harm in having an open debate on issues like Article 370 and a common civil code. Why should we shy away from weighing their pros and cons?" said the Agriculture Minister in reply to a question at his first press conference here, after assuming office.

Talking about his ministry, Singh said he was new to it, but the priorities had been set, which include increasing milk production, having 100 per cent of agricultural land across the country irrigated and introduction of an agricultural income insurance scheme to make farming an economically viable occupation.

The Agriculture Ministry has been asked to work out a plan to increase milk production by raising the productivity of indigenous breed of cows.

"We had achieved the distinction of being the leading milk-producing country during the Vajpayee government, but milk production has suffered in the past few years. We have to regain our earlier position in milk production, for which, I have asked ministry officials to prepare a plan to increase the productivity of our indigenous breed of cows," the Union Minister said.

There is also a plan to introduce 'Pradhan Mantri Gram Sinchai Yojana' on the lines of PMGSY which will help in irrigation of 100 percent agricultural land in the country, Singh said.

There are 14 crore hectares of agricultural land in the country, out of which, just 44 percent are irrigated at present. The 'gram sinchai yojana' will help irrigate 100 percent of such land, he added.

Considering the vulnerability of vast swathes of agricultural land to natural calamities which destroy crops, efforts were underway to introduce an agricultural income insurance scheme (Krishi Amdani Bima Yojana) which will ensure minimum returns to farmers whose crops are destroyed by floods and other natural calamities, he said.

(Agencies)

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