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Modern technology will help enhance crop yield: MoS Agriculture Kailash Choudhary

There is utmost need to employ the latest of technology and farmers need to be made aware about it, the minister said.
Modern technology will help enhance crop yield: MoS Agriculture Kailash Choudhary
Modern technology will help enhance crop yield: MoS Agriculture Kailash Choudhary (Representational image: Shutterstock)

Usage of modern technology in the agriculture sector is a must for enhancing agriculture yield and it will help overcome many of the problems faced by the farmers, said Kailash Choudhary, Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare.

Speaking at a seminar titled ‘Jago Kisan Jago‘ organised by FICCI in collaboration with Dhanuka, Choudhary said, “There is utmost need to employ the latest of technology and farmers need to be made aware about it. Drone technology may play a big role – the way it can be utilised for spraying pesticides or by taking satellite images to analyse how much fertiliser is required and which nutrients need to be applied. Already, 5-6 companies are doing pilots on the usage of drone technology for spraying of pesticides in two districts each, the results of which will be provided to us soon. The result will help us know the requirement of water, pesticides etc for a crop, which is extremely critical for enhancing agriculture yield.

“In this front, we are trying to encourage traceability of various products including agrochemicals. Seed traceability code has been made mandatory so that farmers can check from their mobile whether seeds are original from the company or ICAR. A similar traceability code is required in the pesticide segment and this will help us overcome 70-80 per cent of the problem related to spurious products. We are working in this direction,” Choudhary added.

He also emphasised the need to encourage youngsters to join the field of agriculture and allied services. “With several start-ups coming up amid technological advancement, we are hopeful more and more youngsters will take up farming and agriculture activities,” Choudhary added.

Also present during the event, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Minister of State, Parliamentary Affairs & Culture said, “There is a mismatch in India. About 60-65 per cent of people are engaged in agriculture activities, but its contribution to GDP is 16-17 per cent. How do we address the issues? We need to find how many people or families are entirely dependent on agriculture. There are many who work in the field for 2-3 months and the rest of the time is engaged in some other activity. What is the percentage of females engaged in agriculture; the proportion of share-croppers; the proportion of landless farmers, who don’t have landholding but are engaged in the agriculture activity. These are subjects of research. Only then will we be able to diagnose the real problem and arrive at a reasonable solution.”  

“Many times, we make policy – but it does not help the intended segment. The right kind of data will help us address the same,” Meghwal added.

Earlier, in his opening remarks, RG Agarwal, Chairman, Dhanuka Group & Chairman of Crop Protection Committee, FICCI said, “We at Dhanuka have always been at the forefront of empowering our farmers and enhancing their income. Technology has to play an important role in it and we are embracing drones and other technologies in a big way. Unfortunately, India’s agri-input market including the agrochemical segment is saddled with lower quality and spurious products. In the interest of the farmers, it is imperative to tackle the menace of spurious products on priority so as to ensure the Government’s noble objective of ‘doubling the farmers’ income’. The launch of the ‘Jago Kisan Jago’ initiative is also a step in that direction. We will run an awareness campaign to educate the farmers about the perils of spurious products and ways to overcome them.”

“One of the most effective and easiest ways of handling the menace is to encourage farmers to insist on bills whenever they make any purchase of agri-inputs be it fertilisers or pesticides. This will drastically improve the quality of agri-inputs available in the market and will be a win-win situation for all the stakeholders including farmers, consumers, and industry. Usage of quality products is also likely to augment the country’s agriculture export to a much greater level,” Agarwal added.

The event ‘Jago Kisan Jago’ was organised by FICCI in association with Dhanuka Group to mark the occasion of ‘World Consumer Rights Day’. The programme was supported by CNRI.

Many well-known agriculture scientists, experts, farmers as well as members of the industry participated in the programme.

Making a keynote speech during the event, Dr. Rajvir Sharma, Chairman, Delhi Regional Branch, IIPA said, “We have product recall practices in the automobile sector. It needs to be replicated in the agrochemical and agro-input space too. There should be a policy for recall. This will basically compensate farmers and other stakeholders who are sold below quality products. Such a practice will also enhance the trust of all stakeholders in the agriculture system.

Also present on the occasion, Dr. Ashok Kumar Singh, Deputy Director General (Agriculture Extension), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), called upon the private sector to enhance R&D spending on agriculture. “We have to enhance the quality of all kinds of agri-inputs including seeds, fertilisers and pesticides.  While ICAR is continuously conducting research towards this end, the private sector also needs to increase their spending on R&D,” Dr. Ashok Kumar Singh said.

Earlier setting the tone for the event, Binod Anand, Secretary General, CNRI highlighted two important aspects – little action against spurious product manufacturers and higher GST on pesticides at 18 per cent in comparison to fertilisers and other agri-products which are taxed at 5 per cent under GST.

“There have been some raids conducted on spurious product manufacturers and traders – the latest being at one of the premises near Shahbad Dairy in Outer Delhi. But no severe actions have been taken against those playing with the lives of the people and are cheating farmers. They need to be punished for their misdeeds,” Binod said.

“There is also a need to look at the GST anomalies. 18 per cent GST on agrochemicals is extremely high and this needs to be brought down to 5 per cent in line with fertilisers,” Binod added.

Read more: Israel to set up two centres of excellence for fruits and vegetables in Madhya Pradesh

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