Mumbai: Discussing his foreign tour under Commonwealth Parliamentary Affairs (CPA) programme, BJP minister Pandurang alias Bhausaheb Fundkar said it was a “productive” visit. He said the tour taught them there is need to promote more mechanisation in farming for more productivity.
The 14-member CPA tour led by Ramraje Nimbalkar, the chairman of state Legislative Council, was under intense criticism from their alliance party Shiv Sena, even the opposition parties Congress and NCP. The Sena minister Ramdas Kadam and former chief minister Prith- viraj Chavan had demanded Fundkar and minister for food and the civil supplies Girish Bapat return from the tour as the tur dal procurement issue was burning.
Asked about his priority of opting for tour and tur dal, minister for agriculture Fundkar said, “We were on a tour of CPA and had not gone to study agricultural issues. We were selected by the chairman and we took permission from chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. CM in fact asked us to go there.”
The minister added, “Even after I went on the foreign tour, the tur dal procurement did not come to a halt, did not stop. On the contrary, procurement increased. In my absence, there was no problem of tur dal.”
He said, “The crisis was going on since the beginning of tur dal production. The role of the agriculture department is to increase the production and purchase. Let me inform readers, the sales are looked after by the separate marketing department.”
Fundkar denied allegations that the expenses of their family members were borne by the taxpayer.
Elaborating on the experience of the tour, Fundkar said, “We went to Melbourne in Australia, then to New Zealand and Singapore. Interestingly, the land holding of each farmer in Australia is more than 500 acres. The entire farming process is mechanised and they do not hire more than four-five labourers to take care of 1000 acre s.”
He said all farm work from sowing to ripping done by machines only. “I learnt from this tour that mechanisation of the entire farming process does increase the productivity and I will do it in Maharashtra,” said the minister.