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Farmers need better access to education & technology to fight COVID-19

Nationwide lockdown is causing disruption in the supply chain system and thousands of Indian farmers are also suffering in one way or the other


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With massive nationwide lockdown, aimed at stopping the coronavirus, causing disruption in the supply chain system, thousands of Indian farmers are also suffering in one way or the other. In order to provide aid to them, Rajesh Aggarwal, Managing Director, Insecticides (India), has suggested that they should have access to technology so that they can sell their products online instead of wasting their ripening produce.

Aggarwal was addressing a webinar ‘Coronavirus India’, organised by the think tank IHW Council. The webinar saw thought leaders of various professions sharing their views on how they are dealing with the global health challenges and the way forward.

 “We are in the business of serving the smallest entrepreneur in the country which is a farmer who feeds 17 percent of the world’s population with just 5 percent of the world’s land. India is the second largest producer of food after China. Contribution of Agriculture to the GDP is 17 percent while 70 percent of the rural household depends on agriculture in India. The farmer being the smallest businessman highlights the plight of farmers as they need better access to education and technology in order to be self-reliant,” Aggarwal said.

“Our education system needs to include more practical application which can be used on the job instead of bookish knowledge and at the same time we need to make farming a respectable profession so that more and more young people take to it instead of running from it. Also, we need to provide the farmers with the best material and a key challenge in this area currently is the rate of registration due to slow operations that is preventing fast production and access of new age crop protection products,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Anshu Gupta, Founder and Director, Goonj said, in India farmers are exploited because farming is considered as an unskilled profession in the country.

“They bring us two hundred different types of pulses and grains and have to stand in a queue for 500 grams in these crises. This is because our farm benchmarking is very low and we are unable to provide them a good lifestyle in both villages and in cities. Most migrant workers migrate because of compulsion that arises from lack of smart and empathetic employment systems in their villages,” Gupta said, adding, “To combat this, Goonj with its pipeline and network grid in 20 states and 170 partner organisations is reducing suicide rate among farmers by helping them get back on their feet and is putting a lot of stress on buying locally so if a village or farmer has 500 kg of lauki (bottle gourd) then we encourage members of the village to buy it instead of the dal coming from the city.”

IHW Council CEO Kamal Narayan Omer opined that farmers are drifting away from their professions as they don’t get their due credit.

“India is a large agricultural country with farmers contributing heavily to its GDP but seeing the poor state of farming in the country, family members of farmers with plenty of land are not taking to the profession and instead looking for other jobs. This mind-set needs to change as people need to realise how crucial farming is and the government needs to ensure that they get the best technology and materials to increase their output and profit,” he said.

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