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Pranab wants rethink on agriculture policy
Terms it crucial to meet food security challenge
KV Prasad/TNS

President’s prescription

Close collaboration between state and Central governments on monitoring and appraisal of various agriculture schemes
Focus on training and entrepreneurship development, developing appropriate technology for farmers and agriculture market reforms
More investment in food processing sector

Ludhiana, November 27
President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday underscored the need for a rethink on the agriculture policy to ensure food security in the country and meet key challenges in the farm sector.

Addressing an assembly of academia and experts at the international conference on ‘Sustainable Agriculture for Food and Livelihood Security’ organised by Punjab Agricultural University to mark its golden jubilee, the President sought to know why despite an overall improved growth scenario in the country, economic viability of agriculture sector continued to be a challenge.

He asked policy planners to ponder as to why prosperity eluded a large part of the agriculture sector despite government programmes and schemes that were backed by efforts of the scientific and corporate community.

“We must have in place a coherent and comprehensive policy that has synergy among its elements. Government initiatives are of little use without efficient system for their implementation. Equally important is the necessity for collaboration between the state and Central governments on monitoring and appraisal of various schemes. A coordinated and integrated approach should start at the grassroots,” he said.

Pranab said in his previous role as Finance Minister, he had outlined a four-pronged strategy to drive growth in the agriculture sector that resulted in a significant increase in production of paddy, an achievement that was lauded by Robert S. Zeigler, Director General of Manila-based International Rice Research Institute.

The President said it is ironical that although India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world, value addition to this produce is just 7 per cent and processing only around 3 per cent of production.

The focus should be on training and entrepreneurship development, developing appropriate technology for farmers, agriculture market reforms, studying the present yield gaps and methods to harvest wastelands and address wastage and overuse of fertilisers.

Investments in food processing sector have multiplying benefits for all, said the President, adding that fiscal incentives and land leasing policies of state governments should be such that agro-processing, especially in the rural areas, becomes a lucrative option for farmers and private companies. Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil too stressed on the need to think different to boost agriculture. Modern scientific research and technological methods must be put to use to meet immediate, mid-term and long-term challenges in the sector.





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