To recognise the importance and sustainable development of agriculture sector, ET Edge recently organised an Agro Summit in New Delhi. Policy makers, domain experts and representatives of the Industry expressed their views on issues related to technology, finance, food security and others. Mohd Mustquim reports
Along with technological intervention, widening the scope of agri finance has become the key issue to push agriculture sector. Since public sector investment is going down and private sector share has gone up, it is being recommended by the experts that the agriculture sector also needs to develop Public-Private-Partnership ( PPP) model.
“Around Rs 800,000 crore go to the farming sector through the banks annually. The public sector investment in the agriculture sector is decreasing with the time. Now 80-85 percent investment in the sector is coming from the private sector. Thus, we have to develop PPP models for the sector,” Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, Chairman, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) told R&M on the sidelines of the Agro Summit.
“The banks have an ongoing fear of recovery from the agri financing. Sometimes, if there is a natural calamity, the political waive off also puts challenge in front of the banks,” he further added.
Agriculture sector is in transition period. Parvesh Sharma, Managing Director, Small Farmers Agriculture Consortium said, “Two decades ago, the largest contribution to agricultural GDP, around 70 percent had been coming from the cereals, pulses and oilseeds. But, today only one fourth is contributed by them while three fourth is contributed by the high value and horticulture crops.
According to him, lack of investment, lack of technological intervention and access to market are the biggest roadblocks, faced by the farmers.
Echoing similar views, Deepak Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture said, “Horticulture gives 280 billion tonnes of production which has happened with the great partnership of private and government sector.”
Earlier, addressing the special session on ‘Direct Benefit Transfer of Subsidy in Fertilisers, US Awasthi, Managing Director, Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO) underlined the importance of the direct benefit transfer of fertilisers subsidy to the farmers rather than disbursing it through the fertilisers companies. “The accounts opened under Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana can be a good opportunity for transferring fertilisers, agri machinery and food subsidies to the beneficiaries,” he added.
In India, average landholding is 1.6 hectare while Chinese average landholding is 0.6 hectare. But, Chinese agriculture is growing more faster than India. This is happening because, China is using five times more pesticides and agro-chemicals than India. “ If Indian farmers start doubling their application in wise manner, the farm production would increase tremendously,”RG Agarwal, group chairman, Dhanuka Agritech recommended.
It is widely accepted that food security does not mean to increase food production only. The food should also be safe for human lives with appropriate nutrition. Ram K Mudholkar, Vice Chairman, Dupont said, “ Agro-chemicals are going to play important role in the country’s food security. But, we cannot use them in indiscriminate manner. We cannot just copy European Union, United States or China, rather we should be more wiser than them.”
With an annual output of 130 million tonnes, India is the largest producer of milk in the world. The current agricultural landscape shows India as the largest producer of pulses in the world with 19 million tonnes and also the biggest importer with 3.5 million tonnes.
About protein security, Pradipta Kumar Sahoo, Business Head – horticulture division – Mother Dairy Fruits and Vegetables said, “By and large, we are a vegetarian country, but producing only 600 kg pulses per hectare while Canada has achieved the yield 1900 kg per hectare. We are in the need to increase the yield of pulses rapidly.”
A dominant and sustainable source for the nation, the agriculture sector is being rapidly enhanced in India. Empowering this momentum, India aspires to achieve an understanding of the new initiatives and risk reduction that can be implemented. “ ET Edge recognises the importance of agriculture and with the first Agro Summit, addresses the conversation on this crucial issue and ascertain the multiple factors that impact the growth of the Indian agriculture sector,” said Deepak Lamba, president, Times Conferences.
Experts were of the view that it is very tough to reach to the individual farmers. So, there is a need to develop such mechanism like business correspondence model, contract farming among other various models to reach out to the right beneficiaries. The changing times has seen multitude of professionals moving back to the hinterlands to focus on commercially rich organic farming, horticulture, sericulture, vertical farming, drip irrigation, soil solarisation and other methodologies.
However, the new scenario has presented an array of business opportunities for farmers, there are also challenges like newer agro-chemicals, technological illiteracy, scattered supply chain, storing and stocking systems which limit the growth of the sector.