Visakhapatnam: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu called for a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach to agriculture with focus on crop diversification as well as technology infusion to make the sector viable and sustainable.
He also called for an end to all restrictions on the movement of foodgrains within the country so that farmers get remunerative prices for their produce.
He made these comments while inaugurating the three-day AP AgTech Summit-2017, organised jointly by the Andhra Pradesh government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, at the APIIC grounds here.
“There is a general perception that agriculture is not a good economic proposition. Clearly, a business-as-usual approach will not do and we need a comprehensive, multi- pronged approach,” he said.
“We have to innovate and work with farmers to infuse knowledge and technology and thereby enhance productivity,” Naidu noted.
It has to be ensured that the economic benefits of increased production reach farmers, he said.
“The prime minister has set an ambitious target of doubling the farmers’ income by 2022. To achieve this, various sources of growth have to be accelerated by 33 per cent. See how gigantic the problem is,” he said.
Combining information technology and agriculture technology (IT and AT) will make India mighty, he added.
He said: “We have to learn lessons from the past and go for crop diversification, value-addition, food processing and better marketing. We should also keep an eye on the changing food habits.”
The Indian Council for Agricultural Research and other institutes should come up with new ideas and new seeds, he said, adding that states and the Centre should work together along with agricultural research institutions and krishi vigyan kendras.
Besides crops, diversification should also extend to allied sectors like horticulture, aquaculture, sericulture, poultry and dairying, he said.
Naidu said restriction on movement of foodgrains was not helping farmers realise better prices on their produce.
“In one go, it must go. It had gone once, during the Janata government in 1977. Now, it should go lock, stock and barrel. One country, one food zone should be the norm,” he stressed.
The vice president also regretted that farmers were not getting adequate institutional credit. “Affordable, timely and cheap credit is the key. It’s a major challenge that needs to be addressed.”
Noting that in the last 70 years since independence India witnessed significant growth in foodgrain production, Naidu said it touched a record high of 273.83 million tonnes in 2016 -17, an increase of 8.7 per cent.
“According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, India is the world’s largest producer of milk, pulses and jute. We are the second largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, groundnut, cotton, vegetables and fruits,” he said.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Agriculture Minister Somireddy Chandramohan Reddy, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Head (South Asia) Purvi Mehta, Vizag MP K Haribabu were present on the occasion.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates will attend the valedictory session of the summit on November 17.
Source: BW Businessworld