New Delhi : The Vice President, M. Venkaiah Naidu today emphasised the need to promote agro-based industries in rural areas so as to create employment opportunities for the rural youth. Referring to the phenomena of reverse migration from cities to villages during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said that entrepreneurship in agriculture can immensely benefit the Indian economy by creating jobs in areas where they are needed the most.
Addressing the second Annual Convocation of Dr Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University, Pusa at its Piprakothi Campus (East Champaran) in Bihar today, the Vice President said that the Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) can immensely help small and marginal farmers with forward (processing, marketing and export) and backward (input and extension services) linkages in the Food Supply Chains. Therefore, he emphasised the need to promote FPOs through handholding and capacity building, and appreciated the University for initiating training programmes in this regard. Reiterating that there is a lot of scope for food processing in India, he urged the Universities to encourage farmers in their respective region to form collectives.
Observing that Indian agriculture is characterized by marginal and small farmers with fewer resources, Shri Naidu highlighted the need for increasing the farmers’ income through various sources, including improved resource use efficiency. Calling for greater use of technology in food management to ensure food security for all, he said “The developed world is already reaping benefits from the use of Artificial Intelligence in agriculture and India too must harness its potential to help improve farm income.” In this regard, the Vice President asked Dr Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University to work on the Impact Assessment of Technologies and also evaluate alternative farming techniques and their sustainability.
Lauding the farmers for record foodgrain production despite the challenges thrown by COVID-19 pandemic, Shri Naidu said that our country ows a lot to our hardworking farmers and frontline Corona warriors. Stressing that “agriculture is our basic culture,” he urged the Center and State governments, public leaders, universities and research institutions, and the media to give more importance to agriculture. “We must see that the agri-sector is given all the support that is needed for development and sustenance of agriculture,” he said.
Congratulating all the students who graduated today, the Vice President asked them to strive to excel in their chosen domain and contribute towards the growth and development of the country. On this occasion, he also praised Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Member of Parliament and the former Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, for his efforts in establishing several farmer-centric institutes at Piprakothi, Champaran. “I am confident that all these institutes and centres will play a crucial role in alleviating the problems of small and marginal farmers of the region,” Shri Naidu added.
Referring to the stellar performance of the agriculture sector despite challenges thrown by COVID-19, the Vice President said that this was the first time since 2013-14 that agriculture regained this economic prominence. Terming agriculture as one of the main pillars of the Indian economy, he exhorted the young agri-professionals to work for the development of this crucial sector.
Noting that the university is continuously evolving its research and pedagogy, the Vice President appreciated it for introducing courses in contemporary disciplines such as agricultural journalism, agro-tourism management and also for establishing a start-up incubation center to help students start their own business enterprises. “Agro-based tourism which will boost farm economy and will also act as a detox therapy for urban tourists by letting them experience the natural beauty of the place, ethnic food, unique flora and fauna,” he added.
Stressing that India’s growth strategy is focused on sustainable development, Shri Naidu praised the University for its innovative ‘Sukhet Model’ aimed at creating a circular economy/bio-economy in the village and establishing a self-reliant village. He also complimented the university for coming up with slew of technologies suitable for migrant labourers, including women and for training them under PM Kisan Kalyan Yojna. In his address, Shri Naidu also advised the students to spend half of their time in classrooms/labs and remaining half in the fields with farmers to understand their problems and find solutions for the same.
Mentioning several other initiatives by the University for the welfare of the farming community, the Vice President expressed his happiness that the new knowledge created in the laboratories is being transferred to Covid through a strong network of 18 Krishi Vigyan Kendras.
Recalling Mahatma Gandhi’s historic Champaran Satyagraha movement in support of farmers, Shri Naidu said that he felt privileged and honoured to stand on that pious soil. “Champaran is also the land that gave Mahatma Gandhi Ji the name that he loved the most, Bapu,” he added.
Reminding the students that Bihar is the land of great personalities like Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Jai Prakash Narayan and Karpuri Thakur, the Vice President asked them to take inspiration from their lives and high moral standards they followed. “We are witnessing a fall in the standards in every walk of life today, be it politics, legislatures, local bodies or even educational institutions. This fall needs to be arrested because these persons/institutions provide leadership to our country,” Shri Naidu said. In this regard, he also stressed the need to mould public opinion in such a way so that people select and elect their representatives based on four Cs, namely – character, calibre, capacity and conduct.
Stating that with institutions like Nalanda, Bihar was “the knowledge centre of the world,” Shri Naidu called for regaining that past glory and to make it a knowledge and innovation hub again.
On this occasion, the Vice President also inaugurated the Pt Deendayal Upadhyaya College of Horticulture & Forestry (its administrative building and two hostels for the girls and boys), Centre of Excellence on Embryo Transfer Technology and Indigenous Cattle Breeds – Conservation and Improvement Centre. He also paid floral tribute at the statue of former Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the University campus.
The Governor of Bihar, Shri Phagu Chauhan, the Chief Minister, Shri Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister, Smt. Renu Devi, Agriculture Minister of Bihar, Shri Amarendra Pratap Singh, Member of Parliament, Shri Radhamohan Singh, Chancellor of Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University, Shri Prafulla Kumar Mishra, Vice-Chancellor, Dr. R.C. Srivastava, Secretary, DARE & DG, ICAR, Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, faculty and students were among those who attended the event.