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Technology, diversification vital for vegetable farming: Horticulture Commissioner

Public and private sectors are partnering for the cause and are working diligently towards augmenting the agricultural produce and doubling farmers’ income

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We need to go for diversification and adopt technology for vegetable farming to mitigate the issue of climate change. The public and private sectors are partnering for the cause and are working diligently towards augmenting the agricultural produce and doubling farmers’ income, Dr BNS Murthy, Horticulture Commissioner, Government of India today said.

Addressing a webinar ‘Can Vegetable Farming Help Fight Climate Change? Strategies and Way Forward’ organised by FICCI and East West Seed India, Dr Murthy said that the government is working on various programmes to mitigate the challenges of climate change. Two programmes will be announced in the coming months that will enable vegetable farming. Processing clusters are also being developed and contract farming is being promoted by the government, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Naveen Kumar Patle, Deputy Commissioner Horticulture, Government of India and Director, Central Institute of Horticulture, Nagaland said that the government is promoting farming of perennial vegetables and agroforestry. Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) is demonstrating the benefit of integration of different agriculture practices for increased vegetable farming and reducing the gap between demand and supply of vegetables to achieve self-sufficiency.

Addressing the webinar, Dilip Rajan, Managing Director, East-West Seed India said, “Agriculture may be the sole bright spot in the overall gloomy economic outlook due to COVID-19. Vegetable farming offers better economic returns for smallholder farmers, enhances the health and nutrition of consumers while reviving our stalled economy. Vegetable farming can help fight climate change by reducing tillage, expanding crop rotations, cover crops, and re-integrating livestock into crop production systems.

Dr Ramakrishnan Madhavan Nair, Regional Director, World Vegetable Centre, South and Central Asia said that there was a need to promote climate-smart seed and climate-smart crop management practices and cropping seeds. Also, climate-smart post-harvest practices and circularity should be adopted. He added that going forward there is a need to diversify the crop portfolio, adopt good crop rotations, build soil organic matter, reduce the use of plastics, increase water-use efficiency and reduce post-harvest losses.

Speaking on the strategy for prosperity of vegetable farming, Dr Malavika Dadlani, President, Indian Society of Seed Technology said that there was a need for inclusive and liberal policy and partnerships need to be based on trust and transparency. She added that there was a need to promote ‘India Abroad’ and introduce indigenous vegetables with high nutritive, therapeutic and medicinal vales as COVID-19 has established their health benefits. 

Ram Kaundinya, Head, Agriculture Committee FICCI Telangana State Council and Director-General, Federation of Seed Industry in India (FSII) said that climate change was real. Environmental temperatures are expected to rise and we need climate-resilient agriculture to fight climate change. We need crop varieties that will use natural resources more efficiently. He added that not only would the demand for vegetables rise due to improved living standards, but vegetables should also provide an opportunity for more environment-friendly agriculture both in protected cultivation and open cultivation.

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