Speaking at a national conference focused on enhancing agricultural productivity today, Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the agriculture sector is important for food security and hence, there is a need to increase its productivity and to make efforts to connect it with maximum markets.
Tomar said that the agriculture sector is the backbone of the economy. He said, “During the Covid epidemic, our agriculture has shown that it could provide strong support to the country even in adverse conditions. It has not only been able to meet the food requirements of our country but met the needs of other friendly countries.”
The agriculture minister addressed the concluding session of a national conference ‘Enhancing Agricultural Productivity: Integration of Improved Seeds & Agri Inputs’ virtually today. The conference was organised by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industries (ASSOCHAM) in New Delhi.
Tomar said that the government is starting to assess the yield of agriculture in a digital way. He said, “It usually happens that when the price of any agricultural produce is high in the market, most of the farmers start producing the same agricultural produce. It results in declining prices due to excess production. It leaves the farmers feeling disheartened. To avoid this situation, the government has emphasised the Digital Agriculture Mission, so that farming done in different areas can be assessed through new technology. This way all the information will be collected through satellite and agriculture will be monitored.”
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The agriculture minister also drew the attention of the people present at the conference towards organic farming. He said that organically- produced agricultural products are preferred all over the world. Such agricultural products have been exported from the country, however further work is needed in this area. “All relevant parties need to work together to ensure that agriculture is linked to the market and sustain the increase in productivity.”
He also said that since farmers, especially the smaller ones, suffer losses due to unseasonal rains, the government has provided crop insurance coverage to support them in such a situation. So far, an insurance claim of Rs 122,000 crore has been made available under crop insurance. However, he added, it does not compensate for the hard work put in by the farmer, so the challenge also needs to be considered.
The agriculture minister informed that other challenges that farmers encounter include fluctuations in the price of agricultural produce and the distance between agriculture and the market. He revealed that steps have been taken towards finding solutions for them. The government has linked 1,000 agricultural mandis with the e-National Agriculture Market (eNAM) which includes farmers and traders among others.
Tomar said that since the number of small farmers is more, the government has formed farmer producer organisations (FPOs), where a provision of Rs 6,835 crore has been made in the budget. “Farmers should cultivate together, improve the quality, get good prices and process their products. With this, even small industries can be set up in the village.”
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The government is working closely with agricultural scientists and other experts to increase the productivity of agriculture and has started the National Mission on Edible Oil-Oil Palm with an investment of Rs 11,000 crore. A provision of Rs 100,000 crore under Agriculture Infrastructure Fund has been made for setting up the infrastructure and facilities related to agriculture from village to village.
Speaking at the occasion, Deepak Sood, Secretary General, ASSOCHAM stated that self-sufficient agriculture is of utmost importance to us. He said, “If the country has to be self-reliant, then it is very important to be self-reliant in the agriculture sector.” He added, “After the Covid pandemic, the activities in the economy have started increasing again, which is very important for the economic progress of the country.”
Jai Shroff, Chairman of ASSOCHAM’s National Committee on Agriculture and Farming Inputs and Global CEO of UPL, stated on the occasion that food security is a global concern. He said, “Food security is a major challenge for all farmers, industries, and governments, but it also represents a significant opportunity. We need to equip our farmers with the tools they need to thrive in any situation, and better technology will help them do so.”
Vivek Chandra, Chairman of ASSOCHAM’s Food Processing and Value Addition Council, emphasised the importance of farming sustainability in increasing agricultural productivity. He stated that consumers, processors, and farmers must all work together to accomplish this.
Speaking at the occasion, Asgar Naqvi, Partner, Government and Public Sector Adviser, Nangia Andersen mentioned the best input material in the agriculture sector. Along with this, a report was also issued in this regard. Sangeeta Mendiratta from Bayer, Dr. Ratna Kumria from Federation of Seed Industry in India (FSII), Raju Kapoor from FMC India also participated in the conference and expressed their views.