The Union Government is building robust agri-value system in collaboration with private players to transform agriculture sector from pure production system into an agribusiness, a top Agriculture and Farmer Welfare Ministry official said at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi on Thursday.
“Producers, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, storehouses and packaging houses representing private sector can come forward and partner with government at district level thereby taking the responsibility for building a value chain system,” said Ashok Dalwai, additional secretary, Department of Agriculture, Co-operation and Farmer Welfare while addressing an ASSOCHAM Conference on Nutrition and Food Security.
“The way forward is that we build public-private integrated value chain systems which can partner state-level production systems thereby meeting the nutritional requirements,” Dalwai added.
“We need to reduce production of commodities that are not sold but boost the production of what actually is sold as such we need to build a market-related economy rather than a supply-driven economy,” he added.
He also said that the main problem being faced by agriculture sector in India is that we have not been able to connect the production centers with consumption centers.
“We need to integrate series of value chains into vertically integrated supply chain management facilitated by robust agri-logistics in terms of storage, transportation, handling as it would ensure that uncompromised agricultural produce reaches the farm-gate, the place where it is required,” said Dalwai.
He said that considering about 52% of agriculture system in India is rain-fed, there is a need to grow crops which can grow under low-water requirement conditions. “We need to bring them to the center of our policy.”
“Rather than focusing on producing crops like paddy and wheat, we need to grow crops like bajra and jawar which have high fibre content and have iron, zinc, manganese, vitamins, minerals, are anti-oxidants and very good for health as they are low-calorie crops,” said Dalwai.
Stressing upon the need to focus on retaining freshness of produce he said that Indians need not follow western model of eating processed food all the time. “We must try and improve agri-logistics including transportation system in a way that consumers are able to eat fresh.”
He further said that agriculture sector related research orientation has to change in the country. “There has been some kind of fatigue during the course of last decade in agriculture research institutes countrywide and as such they need to regroup as per the new mandate of agriculture which is just not producing food but also ensure nutrition security and produce agricultural commodities that generate raw material for agro-processing industry and manufacturing sector.”