While addressing the National Convention on Challenges in Indian agriculture, Future Strategies for Sustainability, in Jabalpur, Union Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare Minister, Radha Mohan Singh said that Indian Agriculture has come a long way since the independence, overcoming an era of acute food shortages and import dependence to the present level of being self-reliant in terms of food security.
In the following years, concerns of malnutrition and hidden hunger are to be addressed. In this endeavor, R&D priority was accorded to diversify the food basket by including non-cereal food items consequently, the productivity, production and availability of fruits, vegetables, milk, meat, eggs and fish started increasing as a result the diet became more nutritionally balanced but lot remains to be done.
The agriculture sector is and will remain central to India’s economic security in the foreseeable future. As the largest private enterprise (~138 million farm families) in India, agriculture contributes nearly 18% of the national GDP and engages about 50% of the workforce. Therefore, almost half of the workforce in India still remains dependent on agriculture. Given the low share of this workforce in the GDP, on average, it earns much lower income poorer than its counterpart in industry and services. Hence growth in agriculture and allied sectors remains a ‘necessary condition’ for inclusive growth.
The major challenges before the Indian agriculture are water, climate change, soil degradation, genetic erosion, biotic and abiotic stress, post harvest losses, energy management, market access and market information and uncertainties of agricultural markets. Hence far more innovative research on genomics, quality seeds, rainfed agriculture, farming systems, conservation agriculture, farm mechanization , non conventional energy sources, health foods, fodder and feed coupled with enabling policies and effective delivery of services, supplies and markets are imperative.
It is important for us to achieve sustainability in agriculture and food security without resorting to food imports by diversifying agriculture, improving post harvest management of farm produce, product development etc. With these words, I congratulate the organizers of National Convention and wish it all success with the hope that the event will enthuse the youth to become entrepreneurs and from Job Seekers to Job Providers our farmers will get appropriate remuneration for their hard work and investments.”