Indian Agriculture Minister Surjit Singh Barnala has announced that the sub-continent's food production this year will be a record 125 million tonnes.
GV AND CU: Wheatfield in northern India. (2 shots)
CU PAN: Harvester attached to tractor at work.
LV AND CU: another tractor harnessed to threshing machine (3 shots)
CU: men and women farmers harvesting crop by hand.
SV: traditional winnowing in progress.
LV: grain market with piles of wheat
SV AND CU: workers clean wheat with sieves (2 shots)
SV: wheatgrinders in market.
Grain from the harvest is already in the markets and the biggest single customer is the government, which buys the grain for its public distribution system and to keep India's reserve stocks in a strong position. The country holds nearly 20 million tonnes at present. In his speech to the Indian Parliament, Mr Barnala described the food position throughout the country as "comfortable" and said there had been a stabilisation of food grain prices. Under the public distribution system -- the "food for work" programme -- a million tonnes of wheat will be distributed by the Government according to need.
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Background: Indian Agriculture Minister Surjit Singh Barnala has announced that the sub-continent's food production this year will be a record 125 million tonnes. This will be 14 million tonnes more than in the last agricultural year and four million tonnes above the previous highest production of 121 million tonnes in 1975-76.
SYNOPSIS: The wheat producing states of Punjab and Haryana -- the granary of India -- are the focal point of the record crop.
Mr Barnala explained that many factors were responsible for the high yield, especially significant because there has been damage by cyclones, flooding and hailstorms in some parts of the country. One of the foremost of these factors was irrigation, he said. There has been massive public expenditure on this in recent years -- the single an most important factor in rural development. In the past year, wide areas that were previously unusable have benefited from irrigation.
The result has been an increase in the output of wheat and rice. The latter will produce an all-time record high yield of about 50 million tonnes. Rice production was particularly good in the Punjab and Haryana, rather than conventional growing areas.
But though there has been a considerable growth in producing areas, thanks to increased irrigation, the benefits of such projects have been unrealised in many areas where farms have not yet built their own irrigation channels -- or installed the pumps needed to distribute the water to which they now have access.
In the Punjab, India's most successfully developed agricultural region, private expenditure by farmers on irrigation and new technology has kept pace with government spending - and the result has been a spectacular upsurge in wheat production. In 1966 the output was nearly two million tonnes. In 1977 it was nearly six and half million. More production has meant more work and the number of agricultural workers has tripled in that time. Wages have also risen.