Agriculture has the potential to play a catalytic role in job creation, reducing inflation and resolving food wastage said Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Minister of Food Processing Industries, Government of India.
The minister was speaking at the National Strategy Day on India organised by Confederation of Indian Industry and the World Economic Forum in New Delhi today. Speaking on the occasion, she stressed that there is no place for food wastage in a country like India and called for strengthening integration between farmers and the industry.
Going forward, Badal said that the 42 food parks which are proposed to be set up will help increasing the contribution of food processing industry, presently at just 10 percent and in evolving the agriculture sector in India; but will require a secure and assured supply of raw materials and concerted efforts by farmers and industry to leapfrog to the next level.
Speaking on the rising farmer suicides in the Maharashtra, the State chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the developmental initiatives undertaken by his government such as the Jalyukt Shivar Yojna. These will ensure assured irrigation to the farmers and link farmers to the post-harvest supply chains. Approximately, 500,000 farmers have already been integrated with the supply chain through these initiatives and the state government looks forward to up-scaling the numbers to 2.5 million over the next 5 years.
Further, stressing on the role played by the government, Fadnavis enunciated that emphasis needs to be laid on increasing agricultural investments rather than rolling out subsidies, which are temporary and situational solutions. On the welfare initiatives taken up by his government, the chief minister added that 65 lakh farmer families have been covered under the food security scheme in 14 districts.
Badal and Fadnavis, both agreed on moving to a multi-crop farming system and introducing diversity in farming varieties and techniques to transform Indian agriculture into a progressive agri-business sector.
Addressing the conference, Siraj Azmat Chaudhry, Chairman, Cargill India, reinforced the government’s role as a facilitator between industry and farmer to build the supply chain. He further added that there is limited risk-taking ability amongst the Indian farmers leading to low farming diversity and low innovation. According to him, there is a need to renovate the regulations and policies such as the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee Act (APMC Act), Essential Commodities Act, the Forward Market Commodities Act, etc. governing the agricultural sector today to attract sustained private investments.
Ajay Vir Jakhar, Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj, India opined that there is need for a stronger Centre–state coordination as well as inter-departmental communication. He further said that the rising cause of farmer distress is the obsolete farming policies. According to him, involving farmers while developing policy framework, dealing with the farmers in their land, taking small steps for farmers’ welfare for providing de-worming tablets for indigenous cattle will be instrumental in resolving the long standing issue of farmer distress.