Centre’s agri policies moving in direction set by UPA, says NCP chief Sharad Pawar

Pune, Jan 22 (PTI) Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday said the agricultural policies of the Union government are a continuation of the direction in which the ministry moved when he was at the helm.


Pawar, who was agriculture minister between 2004 and 2014 in the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government, said policies that were taken at that time are being implemented on a large scale by the present (NDA) dispensation.


Speaking on the sidelines of an agricultural expo in Baramati, he said “80 to 90 per cent decisions” on display in the event were ones that were taken under the UPA government.


Pawar was answering a query on how agricultural decisions taken by the Narendra Modi government compared to ones when he was Union minister.


“It (agricultural policies) was supposed to go in a particular direction, we had decided (during UPA rule). Today, steps being taken are going in the same direction, which is a good thing,” he said.


Pawar also said current agricultural policies are not weak since food grain production was rising and the requirements of the massive population was being fulfilled and there was also stock for exports.


“When I left charge of the Union agriculture ministry, food grain production was 251 million tonnes and now it is 300 million tonnes. However, whatever good is happening in this sector is due to the hard work of the farmers,” Pawar said.


Asked about genetically modified crops, Pawar refused to speak on the hearings underway in the Supreme Court but added that, as far as farmers and food production was concerned, any new technology should be understood and used if it has utility.


He cited the shortage of edible oil and the need to import it from nations like Brazil.
“It means we do not have problem importing soybean oil sourced from genetically modified crops but farmers in India are not getting permission to take up its production. This is a contradiction,” the NCP leader asserted.

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