Dehra Dun: The Uttarakhand government on Tuesday approved a new agriculture policy which seeks to promote special farm zones but rejected a proposal to ban purchase of farmland for commercial purposes.

Under the special agriculture zones (SAZ), the state government would set up micro and small enterprises in the agriculture sector to generate employment.

This was decided at a Cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank.

Agriculture Secretary Om Prakash said under the SAZ scheme, the government is aiming to protect its agriculture land and provide food security to the state.

The new agriculture policy came after the government approved the new APMC Act that seeks to promote private players in the sector and allow setting up of private mandis.

For the SAZ, the government also announced special incentives like availability of 24-hour power supply and free soil tests. Apart from this, if a farmer wants to purchase lands adjacent to his existing fields, he would be fully exempted from paying the stamp duty.

Under the SAZ, the government would set up special collection and processing centres for the benefit of farmers.

The special feature of the SAZ would be voluntary land consolidation since most of the land holdings in the state are very small.

The government has made special provision of giving grants also. For example, Lakholi village in Pauri district which has already adopted the voluntary land consolidation has been given the status of SAZ. For this village, the government also announced a special grant of Rs 35 lakh.