New Delhi : The Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu today called for concerted efforts to make agriculture climate-resilient, profitable, sustainable and productive while encouraging the farmers to diversify their crops.
Stressing the need to diversify agriculture production in the country through meticulous planning, he said “We have to make conscious efforts to reduce cereal production and increase the production of pulses, oilseeds and other crops”.
Presenting ‘M S Swaminathan Award’ to Dr. V. Praveen Rao, Vice-Chancellor of Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University, he lauded the excellent work of Dr. Rao in helping farmers raise crops with better water management through drip irrigation and other micro-irrigation techniques. Noting that water is a scarce resource, he called upon the policy makers and scientists to come up with similar efforts to help small and marginal farmers to improve water utilisation in their farmlands.
The award was instituted by the Retired ICAR Employees’ Association (RICAREA) and by Nuziveedu Seeds Limited.
Praising Prof. Swaminathan for bringing about an agriculture renaissance in India, Shri Naidu said he has done India proud with his outstanding contribution to agriculture and farming practices.
On this occasion, the Vice President paid rich tributes to the farmers, observing that their progress determines the nation’s progress. Noting that Indian agriculture has made rapid progress, he said that from the problem of shortages at the time of Independence, the country was now facing the problem of plenty in cereal crops. While the production of food grains in 1950-51 was 50.83 million tonnes, it has increased to 308.66 million tonnes in 2020-21. Remarkable growth was also witnessed in the production of milk, eggs, fruits and vegetables, among others.
The Vice President said that farmers need to be encouraged to grow crops that are in demand rather than crops that are available in excess. In this regard, he suggested going beyond traditional crops and stressed the need to diversify into allied sectors like livestock, horticulture, fisheries, sericulture, etc. to create sustainable incomes for farmers.
Noting that key issues that impact agricultural productivity include the shrinking sizes of farm landholdings, dependence on monsoon, limited access to irrigation, lack of timely access to agricultural credit, un-remunerative prices for farm produce, absence of cold storage facilities and a viable marketing network, he said “we need to address all these issues with a sense of urgency. We need to expand food processing units and enable better forecasting of prices for farm produce. Only then will Indian farmers realize their full potential and only then will farming become a productive, profitable and sustainable activity for them. Improving productivity is also key to meet the nutritional security of our large population.”
Shri Naidu urged both the Centre and the States to work with a well-coordinated Team India spirit to make agriculture profitable. “This is all the more necessary as the vast majority of farmers are unorganized and voiceless”. He wanted the Four Ps—Parliament, Political leaders, Policymakers and Press to adopt a positive bias towards farming and agriculture.
Shri Naidu called upon scientists to make extension programs accessible and understandable for the common farmer. “Research institutes should reach out to the farming community in the primary language they understand – their mother tongue. They should utilise all the modern audio-visual means to reach the farmers in the villages”, he added.
Pointing out that minor millets like Sorghum, Pearl Millet, Finger Millet and Foxtail Millet are being rediscovered as healthy food options for combating various ailments, Shri Naidu said there is a huge potential to brand and market these healthy foods and earn valuable foreign exchange.
Referring to the potential for India to become a large exporter in high-quality fruits and vegetables, he said that it would not only help the farmers reap the benefits of globalisation but also generate employment in rural India and enable the country to earn valuable foreign exchange.
The Vice President also called for developing strategies to reduce the usage of agrochemicals and fertilizers to not only ensure the health of the soil but also the health of the farmers, farm workers and consumers. Observing that some of the cancers are associated with toxic chemicals found as remnants in the food, the Vice President stressed the need to develop crop production systems with low use of chemicals. He urged agricultural scientists and the agrochemical industry to work in this direction for the benefit of one and all.
Telangana Agriculture Minister, Shri Niranjan Reddy, Commissioner of Agriculture, Govt. of Telangana, Shri M. Raghunandan Rao, President of RICAREA, Dr. M.V.R. Prasad, Chairman and Managing Director, Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd, Shri M Prabhakar Rao, agricultural scientists and others attended the event