These initiatives can put agriculture on to a more viable, income-generating trajectory
The Vice President Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu today emphasized the need for much-needed reforms in the agriculture sector to improve the status of the Indian farmers and make agriculture profitable. He called for cooperative action to achieve this and a dialogue with farmers and agricultural scientists to design a system that delivers tangible results to the farming community.
Expressing happiness about instances of enterprising youth returning to the villages and bringing advanced techniques to agriculture, the Vice President said this is an encouraging trend and must be further accelerated. He underscored that agri-entrepreneurship is an effective way to gainfully and sustainably employ and leverage our demographic dividend.
Shri Naidu also advised top priority and coordinated action by both the Centre and the States with a team India spirit to bring in reforms.
Shri Naidu also suggested that the 4 Ps--Parliament, political leaders, policymakers and press must proactively adopt a positive bias towards agriculture. “In fact, a radical shift in making agriculture profitable is the need of the hour. We must also ensure that the growth is steady and sustainable”, he said.
Releasing the book ‘Agriculture in India: Contemporary Challenges - in the Context of Doubling Farmers Income’ authored by former Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary, Dr. Mohan Kanda, the Vice President suggested that the problems that are holding back Indian farmers from realizing their full potential must be identified, adding “we can’t continue with business as usual”.
Referring to key issues affecting agricultural productivity such as the decreasing sizes of land holdings, continued dependence on the monsoon, inadequate access to irrigation and lack of access to formal agricultural credit, among others, he said “As a result of these factors, agriculture is not seen as a profitable venture”.
Shri Naidu observed that many people are leaving agriculture and migrating to urban areas because it is not remunerative, because of rising input costs and unfavourable market conditions.
In this regard, the Vice President called for long term policy changes like governance and structural reforms to make agriculture viable. Suggesting that centre and states should give a helping hand to the farmers, he advised governments to think beyond loan waivers. Farmers need timely and affordable credit, assured and quality power, infrastructural support like godowns and marketing facilities, more than just doles, Shri Naidu remarked.
Reflecting on the good practices that can improve the state of agriculture in India, Shri Naidu advised governments to encourage farmers to diversify their crops and take up allied activities to mitigate risks in agriculture. He added that with changing consumption patterns and preferences, organic farming and food processing can be taken up in a big way to make agriculture more profitable. He also suggested that Farmer Producer Organisations should be revived, to leverage the economy of scale and increase the bargaining power of farmers.
Shri Naidu observed that despite the numerous challenges, Indian agriculture looks poised for further growth due to the inherent strengths of Indian farmers and the innovations happening in the sector. In this context, the Vice President lauded the farmers for achieving the feat of record food grain and horticulture production, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Referring to the Prime Minister’s call for doubling farmer’s income by 2022, Shri Naidu remarked that there was a shift in approach in governments and policymakers from simply production and productivity to a focus on farmer and farmer welfare. He said that for this purpose, a holistic strategy was conceptualized and multiple reforms and programmes were introduced, including the recent farm legislations.
Stressing on the importance of addressing the problem of yield-risk and price-risk faced by farmers, Shri Naidu called for focusing on key linkages that can add value to farming such as improvement of road infrastructure, storage and warehousing facilities, crop diversification and food processing. He said that these initiatives can put agriculture on to a more viable, income-generating trajectory.
Elaborating on the importance of crop diversification, Shri Naidu noted that consumption patterns in the country have changed over the years, with less dependence on cereals for nutrition and increased consumption of protein. In this regard, he underscored the need to encourage farmers to grow crops that use less water and power.
Shri Padmanabaiah, Former Home Secretary, Government of India, Shri B. Vinod Kumar, Vice Chairman, Telangana State Planning Board, Dr. Mohan Kanda, Prof. Devi Prasad Juvvadi, Director, Centre for Good Governance, Shri Anil Shah, Director, BSP Books Pvt. Ltd. and others were present during the event.