We are over producing many crops with excessive consumption of water, especially in the north western plains, already facing water shortage, which in turn, in the future will cost to the future generations, Ashish Bahuguna, Chairman, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) today said. He emphasised that the focus of policymakers in the field of agriculture and food production should shift away from excessive productivity to sustain quality to enable India globalise its food and agriculture products on sustainable basis.
Delivering his key-note address at India Farm 2 Fork 2017 – 5th International Conference and Exhibition organised by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi today, Bahuguna said that unnecessary obsession with productivity particularly for agriculture and food product is no longer amenable as continued focus on it would have adversarial environmental impact on agriculture, land and soil among others.
Therefore, now time has arrived that the focus of policymakers in the Ministry of Agriculture and other coordinating departments with it ought to be on sustained quality of agricultural and food items to help India attain its global integration in the field of food and agriculture as also help it prevent its soil and land degradation, further emphasised the former agriculture secretary, Bahuguna.
Accordingly, the food safety standards should also evolve to transform India’s food and agriculture with compliance with progressive food safety standards to promote all-round consumption, he said.
Speaking on the occasion, JP Meena, Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, however, in his inaugural remarks, felt that whereas large and medium sector industry in agriculture and food processing sector have been quite collaborating with linking themselves with farmers, the SME segment has somehow fallen behind to work directly with the farmers and lift their produce for optimum value addition.
Therefore, the SME segment needs to make certain amendments in their approach and come forward with a pro-active approach to directly work with the farmers well equipped with latest technologies to enable them optimise their production commercially, he added.
Meanwhile, Meena announced that the government would be coming out with two additional schemes to promote several mini mega food parks across the country to uplift the agri and food sector in which the subsidy element for setting up of agro food clusters in such parks would vary from Rs.5 crore to Rs.10 crore and urged the industry to take advantage of such schemes which would fall in public domain from next week onwards.
In his welcome remarks, President, PHD Chamber, Anil Khaitan pointed out that the production of horticulture goods in India have exceeded the grain production which in some sense good for agrarian economy. He, however, emphasised that globalisation and integration of Indian agriculture sector with economies of scales is still a challenge.
Terming the Mega Food Park scheme of Ministry of Food Processing Industries as a failed scheme, Ajay Vir Jakhar, Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj said, “The Government is providing Rs 50 crore subsidy to each Mega Food Park. Besides, these food parks are also enjoying subsidise electricity, tax incentives among various other benefits. However, many of them rather than buying agricultural commodities from farmers, importing better quantity of farm produce from outside India which is creating competition in front of our own farmers.”
Emphasising on the efficient use of water, Surinder Makhija, Senior Vice President, Jain Irrigation said, “About 500 million hectare of area in India, is today, using drip irrigation. With minimum application and maximum utilisation of water, drip irrigation is saving water, energy and fertiliser too. Through drip irrigation, by using 50 percent of water, the farmers get 2.5 times higher produce.”