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Shri Radha Mohan Singh addresses the National Convention on Challenges in Indian Agriculture



Shri Radha Mohan Singh addresses the National Convention on Challenges in Indian Agriculture: Future Strategies for Sustainability, in Jabalpur 


The Union Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare Minister, Shri Radha Mohan Singh addressed the National Convention on Challenges in Indian agriculture, Future Strategies for Sustainability, in Jabalpur today. The convention is being organised by Vidyarthi Kalyan Nyas at JNKVV, Jabalpur during 13-14 February, 2016.


Speaking on the occasion, Shri Radha Mohan Singh said that Indian Agriculture has come a long way since the independence, overcoming an era of acute food shortages and import dependence to the present level of being self-reliant in terms of food security.   He said that during the year 2015 our institutions initiated several new programmes.  These include Mera Gaon Mera Gaurav and farmers FIRST, to improve scientist-farmer interaction for an effective technology dissemination, new initiatives such as attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture (ARYA), Consortia research Platform, extra Mural Funding, national agricultural science fund, National agricultural education Project (NAEP) and agricultural education in schools. He also said that  for a sustainable agriculture in the country the Agriculture and farmers welfare ministry of the current Government  has initiated several schemes, such as Pradhan Mantri Crop Insurance Scheme, Revision of standards for relief in event of natural calamity, Deen Dayal Grameen Jyoti Yojna and Kisan  TV channel. The Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Koushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY) is a placement-linked skill development scheme for poor rural youth. A total of 51,956 candidates have been skilled under the DDU-GKY, of which 28,995 have been placed till November during 2014-15, he added.

The text of the Union Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare Minister, Shri Radha Mohan Singh’s address on the occasion is as follows:


“It is a pleasure for me to be present here on the occasion of National Convention on Challenges in Indian agriculture, Future Strategies for Sustainability being organized by Vidyarthi Kalyan Nyas  on the campus of  JNKVV, Jabalpur. I appreciate the organisers for identifying a theme of extreme relevance for the present and future of agriculture in our country.
           
Indian Agriculture has come a long way since the independence, overcoming an era of acute food shortages and import dependence to the present level of being self reliant in terms of food security.  The realization to build a robust and self reliant food security took shape in form of a concerted national effort integrating agricultural research and development that resulted in transforming agricultural scenario, termed as Green Revolution. The success instilled a sense of confidence of the national R&D systems.

In the following years, concerns of malnutrition and hidden hunger are to be addressed. In this endeavor, R&D priority was accorded to diversify the food basket by including non-cereal food items consequently, the productivity, production and availability of fruits, vegetables, milk, meat, eggs and fish started increasing as a result the diet became more nutritionally balanced but lot remains to be done.

The agriculture sector is and will remain central to India’s economic security in the foreseeable future. As the largest private enterprise (~138 million farm families) in India, agriculture contributes nearly 18% of the national GDP and engages about 50% of the workforce. Therefore, almost half of the workforce in India still remains dependent on agriculture. Given the low share of this workforce in the GDP, on average, it earns much lower income poorer than its counterpart in industry and services. Hence growth in agriculture and allied sectors remains a ‘necessary condition’ for inclusive growth.

India is predominated by small farm agriculture. According to Agriculture Census, the total number of operational holdings in India numbered 138.35 million with an average size of 1.15 ha. Of the total holdings, 85 per cent are in marginal and small farm categories of less than 2 ha (Agriculture Census, GOI, 2014). These small farms, though operating only on 44 per cent of land under cultivation, are the main providers of food and nutritional security to the nation, but have limited access to technology, inputs, credit, capital and markets. Technologies that cater to the needs of landless, small and marginal farmers are need of the hour to free the rural households from the poverty.

As per the Agricultural Census-2014, the number of landholdings in the country was 138.35 million with an average of 1,15 ha. The farm holdings of less than 2 ha. account for 85%.  Even though the small and marginal farmers cultivate 44% of the area but their contribution towards national food security is immense. Today we technologies and other infrastructure facilities and financial institutions and markets that will enable to bring the small farmers out of poverty.

Although small and marginal farmers are found to have higher productivities compared to large sized holdings, they have low marketable surplus and profit. In order to ensure livelihood security of the marginal and small farmers, it is necessary to focus on the technological needs and infrastructure, including diversifying avenues for gainful employment in the non-farm sector, for their development. The estimates indicate that small and marginal farmers may account for more than 91 per cent of farm holdings by 2030. The continuously declining farm size also give rise to concerns on the very sustainability of the small farm.

While there is a need to focus on sustaining the productivity gains in the irrigated agriculture, the major emphasis should, however, be on the development of rainfed agriculture, promotion of integrated farming, high value agriculture, secondary and specialty agriculture need to be accorded high priority.

The major challenges before the Indian agriculture are water, climate change, soil degradation, genetic erosion, biotic and abiotic stress, post harvest losses, energy management, market access and market information and uncertainties of agricultural markets.  Hence far more innovative research on  genomics, quality seeds, rainfed agriculture, farming systems, conservation agriculture, farm mechanization , non conventional energy sources, health foods, fodder and feed coupled with enabling policies and effective delivery of services, supplies and markets are imperative.

The National Agricultural Research and Education System (NARES) has a vast network of agricultural research institutions located across the country with Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) as the apex body for coordinating, guiding and managing research and education in agriculture including horticulture, fisheries and animal sciences. The NARS chiefly comprises of 109 research institutes of the ICAR, 643 Krishi Vigyan Kendras and 73 Agricultural Universities as centres of higher education and human resource development in the field of agricultural sciences. Of these, the ICAR has set up 5 research institutes, 47 Krishi Vigyan Kendras and supports three agricultural universities in the state of M.P. The KVKs with main mandate of frontline technology demonstration are now being provided facilities for soil and water testing, rain water harvesting, basic agri and seed processing. The staff strength in KVKs is being enhanced from 16 to 22. In order to improve the effective, the number of zonal Agricultural Technology Application Research Institute (ATARI) is being increased from 8 to 11 with establishment of three new ATARIs at Patan, Pune and Guwahati. The coordination of KVKs and the state level extension ATMA is also being improved to technology dissemination.

To promote agricultural research and education, new institutions have been established such as IARI at Barhi, Jharkhand on the line on Pusa institute in Delhi and national centre for integrated farming research at Motihari. Six new colleges have been opened in the N-e region under the CAU, thus raising the number of colleges to 13 from 7. Four new colleges are established under the RLB-CAU for bundelkhand region.

 During the year 2015 our institutions initiated several new programmes.  These include Mera Gaon Mera Gaurav and farmers FIRST, to improve scientist-farmer interaction for an effective technology dissemination. New initiatives as attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture (ARYA), Consortia research Platform, extra Mural Funding, national agricultural science fund, National agricultural education Project (NAEP) and agricultural education in schools. 

In order to meet the challenges of sustainable agriculture, the prime thrust has to be scientific use for safeguarding the productive potential of our natural resources coupled with application of technologies to increase their use efficiency. The population of our country is increasing but there is practically no scope of further expansion of cultivable land. In order to meet the food, fiber, fuel and fodder needs, we have to enhance the agricultural production and productivity. With the aim of improving the natural resource use efficiency, Soil Health card scheme has been launched so that the productive potential of the soil is maintained. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, is formulated with a view to take irrigation water to each and every agricultural field in the country and improve water use efficiency so as to achieve more crop, per drop. The Rashtriya Krishi bazar has also been initiated. The agriculture remains vulnerable to several forms of natural vagaries such as floods, droughts, hailstorms, frost, extremes of high and low temperatures etc. To mitigate the effects of natural calamities Contingency Plans have been prepared for 600 districts.

13.       For a sustainable agriculture in the country the Agriculture and farmers welfare ministry of the current Government  has initiated several schemes, such as :

        i.            Pradhan Mantri Crop Insurance Scheme
      ii.            Revision of standards for relief in event of natural calamity
    iii.            Parampragat Krishi Vikas Yojna for organic farming
    iv.            Beekeeping
      v.            National Gokul mission, Livestock Mission, Veterinary Education
    vi.            Blue Revolution
  vii.            Agricultural Education And Research
viii.            Agricultural extension
    ix.            Effective policy decisions for sugarcane growers
      x.            Fast tracking of agricultural loan process
    xi.            Protection to farmers under the WTO
  xii.            Deen Dayal Grameen Jyoti Yojna
xiii.            Neem coated urea
xiv.            New fertiliser Policy
  xv.            Using atleast 60% funds under MNREGA in agriculture
xvi.            Kisan  TV channel

In our ministry, Krishi Melas are a regular feature wherein the agricultural scientists and the extension engage with farmers not only for technology demonstrations but also in one-to-one interactions. The mechanism has helped us to ensure speedy transfer of technology. It is a two way process, on one hand, the farmer gets a firsthand information and knowledge about the technology and also gets confidence to adopt it. On the other hand, we as scientists get the feedback about the technologies, learn the practical difficulties the farmers encounter while working in the field that enables us to assess and refine our technologies. 

In order to harness the youth power or this demographic dividend, our Government has launched several schemes and new initiatives. Our Hon. Prime Minister gave a call for Make in India. The Make in India program includes major new initiatives designed to facilitate investment, foster innovation, protect intellectual property, and build best-in-class manufacturing infrastructure. It is hoped that programme will lead to creation of several job opportunities for the youth and also make India a global manufacturing hub.

A dedicated Department of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has been created under the Ministry of Skill Development, Entrepreneurship, Youth Affairs and Sports to accord focused attention in this area. In addition, the skilling programme for rural youth has been refocused and reprioritized to build the capacity of poor rural youth to address domestic and global skill requirements. Government of India is currently spending approximately Rs 2,710 on every young individual through various Ministries, of which Rs 1,100 is through targeted programs. In order to capitalize on this opportunity, the government would need to invest more in youth across the various priority areas. The Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Koushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY) is a placement-linked skill development scheme for poor rural youth. A total of 51,956 candidates have been skilled under the DDU-GKY, of which 28,995 have been placed till November during 2014-15.

About a month back, Hon’ble Prime Minister launched the Start-up India that he first mentioned on August 15, 2015 while addressing the nation on Independence Day. The scheme aims to push for Entrepreneurship in the country by providing enabling environment for the entrepreneurs. He said successful start-ups are usually created by those who are driven by an idea, or an urge to solve a problem that people face. The programme has a dedicated Start-up fund worth Rs.10,000 crore; exemption from paying income tax on their profit for the first three years;  eighty percent exemption in patent fee as well as fast-tracking of Start-up patent applications. I feel our youth must come forward and take advantage of the new national initiative. 

An Atal Innovation Mission, be an Innovation Promotion Platform involving academics, entrepreneurs and researchers and draw upon national and international experiences to foster a culture of innovation, R&D and scientific research in India, is also proposed.

In consistence with SKILL INDIA initiative of Govt of India, a Students READY (Rural Entrepreneurship and Awareness Development Yojana) and ARYA (Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture) programmes of ICAR were launched by our Hon’ble Prime Minister on 25 July 2015. The objectives of ARYA aims to (i) attract and empower the Youth in Rural Areas to take up various Agriculture, allied and service sector enterprises for sustainable income and gainful employment in selected districts, (ii)  enable the Farm Youth to establish network groups to take up resource and capital intensive activities like processing, value addition and marketing, and (iii)  demonstrate functional linkage with different institutions and stakeholders for convergence of opportunities available under various schemes/program for sustainable development of youth.

ARYA project will be implemented in 25 States through KVKs, one district from each State. In one district, 200-300 rural youths will be identified for their skill development in entrepreneurial activities and establishment of related micro-enterprise units in the area of Apiary, Mushroom, Seed Processing, Soil testing, Poultry, Dairy, Goatry, Carp-hatchery, Vermi-compost etc., KVKs will involve the Agricultural Universities and ICAR Institutes as Technology Partners. At KVKs also one or two enterprise units will be established so that they serve as entrepreneurial training units for farmers. The purpose is to establish economic models for youth in the villages so that youths get attracted in agriculture and overall rural situation is improved.

It is important for us to achieve sustainability in agriculture and food security without resorting to food imports by diversifying agriculture, improving post harvest management of farm produce, product development etc. With these words, I congratulate the organizers of National Convention and wish it all success with the hope that the event will enthuse the youth to become entrepreneurs and from Job Seekers to Job Providers our farmers will get appropriate remuneration for their hard work and investments.”

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