Read full article by Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit@TheNorthlines Photo Credit: ICRISAT
Recently PM Modi reviewed the progress of agriculture research, extension and education in India through videoconference. PM appreciated the efforts towards developing varieties focusing on specific requirements of agro-climatic zones and exhorted the need for developing forward and backward linkages to assure better returns to farmers. It reveals the fact that though industry has been playing an important role in Indian economy, still the contribution of agriculture in the development of Indian economy cannot be denied. India is basically an agricultural-dependent nation with nearly half of its population residing in villages. Agriculture is the backbone of Indian economy that contributes to the overall economic growth of the country and determines the standard of life for more than 50% of the Indian population. Agriculture employs more than half of the Indian population. Though, there was a time when approximately 75% of the Indian population was living on agricultural income.
In an effort to bolster ‘Kuposh Mukt Bharat’ (India free from Malnutrition) 70 bio fortified varities with enhanced Iron, Zinc and Protein content have been developed. Bhagwa, a variety of Pomegranate is rich in Iron, Potassium, Vitamin C and Anti-oxidants.PM has rightly exhorted that traditional knowledge of Indian communities should be coupled with technology and skill sets of youth and Agriculture graduates to translate the full potential of Indian Agriculture in transforming rural areas. In India at least two-thirds of the working population earn their living through agricultural works. In India other sectors have failed generate much of employment opportunity the growing working populations. He also highlighted the need to adopt organic and natural farming practices on a cluster based approach. India has great potential to grow crops organically and can be a major supplier of organic products in the world. He has also exhorted the need to create awareness regarding inclusion of millets like Jowar, bajra, ragi and several other minor millets in diet to ensure healthy diet. Organic farming can maintain soil quality. The chemical use is hitting the sustainability in soil and decreasing its potency. Applying organic manure is the only solution to improve the soil organic carbon productivity in the future. Organic manure can be used as an alternative renewable resource for nutrients supply.
PM highlighted the need to orient Agricultural Education and research systems based on agro climatic requirements to meet the demands of the Farmers. The systems are to be geared towards enhancing farmer’s incomes while meeting International standards. It should be think over that the taxation of agriculture should be in such a way that the burden on agriculture is greater than the government services provided to agriculture. Therefore, generation of surplus from agriculture will ultimately depend on increasing the agricultural productivity considerably.
PM has directed that start-ups and agri-enterprenues need to be promoted to ensure innovation and use of technology in Agriculture and allied sectors. He highlighted the need to leverage information technology to provide information on demand to the farmers. Our Indian agriculture has a cost advantage in several agricultural commodities in the export sector because of low labour costs and self- sufficiency in input supply. Though India is considered as one of the top countries in respect of agricultural production but in terms of farm mechanization, it is behind the world average.
Today, Banks too are willing to lend money to a village consortium which can be utilised to boost farm productivity, employ sustainable farming methods, reduce over – dependence on fertilisers and thus solve many problems. What is needed is safe but remunerative farming. We need to think of organic farming and avoidance of large scale wastage of agricultural productions. Creation of good surface irrigation and maintenance of tank systems so as to improve underground storage and remunerative prices are the most important.