Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday sought allocation of Rs 5,000 crore for promoting farm diversification from the Centre.
   
During his meeting with Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Badal also demanded procurement of alternate crops, especially maize, by Food Corporation of India at minimum support prices, an official release said.
   
This he said was to encourage farmers to shift from paddy crop. Badal said the livestock sector can play a major role in improving the income of the small and landless farmers in the rural areas. However, to achieve this it was essential to bring funding, interest on loans as well as Income tax exemptions on par with agriculture.
 
Demanding a slew of incentives to promote dairying in a big way, Badal said the Centre should grant exemption from custom duty for import of machinery relating to dairy, poultry, feed and fodder, besides additional allocation under various Dairy Development schemes.
 
Badal demanded that small ruminants such as goatry and piggery be included under National Mission on Protein Supplement besides setting up of an ICAR unit for research in fisheries and prawns in the state. Responding to the demands raised by the Chief Minister, Pawar gave in principle consent for launching a technology mission to promote crop diversification in the region.
    
To strengthen the research for development of maize, the ICAR would set up a state-of-the-art institute over a land area of 100 hectares to be provided by the state.

To encourage the adoption of fisheries in saline and waterlogged areas, Pawar announced setting up five ultra- modern demonstration centres one each at Mansa, Bathinda, Muktsar, Faridkot and Ferozepur districts.

Pawar assured the Chief Minister that he would soon take up the matter for export of dairy and poultry products through Attari-Wagah border with Ministries of Commerce and External Affairs.
 
To ensure development and modernisation of milk processing infrastructure in the state, the National Dairy Development Board shall be asked to provide soft loan to the state milk federation, he said.

(Agencies)

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