Gujaratís agri success an eye-opener: Kalam

Former President APJ Abdul Kalam on Monday praised Gujarat for achieving 9 per cent growth in agriculture for the past seven years as against the national average of over 3 per cent.

Speaking on the 84th foundation day of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) here, Kalam said the agriculture turnaround story of the state was "an eye opener for the entire nation".

"The entire India has achieved only over 3 per cent growth rate in agriculture production. How Gujarat is able to attain 9 per cent growth rate?" he said recalling the question he had posed to the Centre for Management in Agriculture (CMA) that assisted the state in its agricultural policy.

Gujarat was impeded by factors like depletion of water table, deterioration of soil and water conditions due to salinity ingress, irregularity of rainfall and recurrent drought in early 2000.

Despite these adverse factors, the state transformed itself to achieve 9 per cent growth in agriculture and sustained it for the last seven years, Kalam said at the function also attended by Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar.

Kalam said this was achieved due to mission mode action by the Gujarat government. He said that instead of giving free powers to farmers, the state government ensured three-phase electricity supply to agriculture on 24x7 basis.

This was done by re-organising the power distribution channels with the latest state-of-the art gadgets and segregating the power distribution between domestic and agricultural consumption.

He hailed the country for achieving a record 250 million tonnes of foodgrains in 2011-12 due to hard work by farmers, but added that "we will be requiring 350 million tonnes of foodgrains by 2020 to feed our rising population".

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