The future of farmers cannot be transformed by producing wheat and rice. Carrying out innovation, entrepreneurship, technology and research is very important in the sector,” Union Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister, Nitin Gadkari said at an Assocham event, Crop, ‘Crop Care & Doubling Farmers’ Income: Myths, Challenges & Way Forward’ held in New Delhi today.
Suggesting certain measures aimed at ensuring growth and development of agriculture sector, Gadkari said, “There is a need to bring down costs per acre and also to promote allied sectors like dairy, fisheries, poultry and others,” Gadkari added.
“The Government is soon likely to bring a policy to promote bamboo sector which could be used to harness bio-fuel and paper industry,” the Minister added.
“I have been very diligently working towards diversification of agriculture into energy and power sector. Our petroleum minister has also signed 15 contracts to harness bio-ethanol out of bamboo,” said Gadkari.
He also added that second generation ethanol can be made using bamboo, cotton straw, rice straw and residual cane-waste (bagasse).
“In the current scenario, we need to boost productivity to promote economic viability which would lead to job generation and boost the gross domestic product (GDP), besides promoting agro-processing industries and bringing down costs of power, seeds, fertilisers and insecticides is equally imperative,” he added.
He further said that all of these steps together will lead to overall development of agriculture sector.
Highlighting that diversification of agriculture is most critical, he said that it is imperative to find substitute of petrol, diesel using agro-waste which would be import-substitute, cost effective, pollution-free and indigenous.
He also said that states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Odisha are grappling with water shortage and facing grave issue of farmers’ suicides.
“Unless and until, we have about 55 percent of irrigated land and 60-65 percent drip irrigation, no one can stop farmers’ suicides, this is the thumb rule,” said Gadkari.
“It is because our policies are wrong and the state governments do not have enough funds to strengthen irrigation systems,” he said further.
He said that, thus for the first time, the present government in the second year’s budget had allocated Rs 75,000 crore for a five year term and with a view to revive the irrigation offices of state governments that have remained shut to provide funds under the aegis of Prdhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana.
The union minister also said that there is a need to promote drip irrigation as it can help boost agriculture production by 2.5 times.