New Delhi, Feb 15 (ANI): Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said that a strong agricultural sector is necessary for our food and nutritional security and for the welfare and well being of the very large proportion of our population that is still engaged in farming.
Addressing a workshop on agriculture at Rashtrapati Bhavan here, Dr. Singh said: “The importance of agriculture to our society and economy has stayed undiminished over the years. Indeed without providing livelihood security to the farmers, we cannot achieve the goal of inclusive growth in its true sense.”
“Our government has given considerable attention to agriculture in the last seven and a half years or so. We have been able to channel nearly 4.75 lakh crore rupees of bank credit into agriculture and allied sectors. But we still have a long way to go,” he added.
“I would like to repeat here what I had stated on the occasion of the Foundation Day celebrations of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research on July 16 last year- the challenges that India’s agriculture faces in the coming years remain enormous. As an illustration, to meet the total demand of foodgrains in the year 2020-2021, we need a growth rate of at least 2 percent per annum in food production,” he said.
This has to be contrasted with the average annual rate of only 1 percent that we achieved in the ten year period 1995-96 to 2004-05. Although food production has regained momentum in the recent years, we cannot afford to be complacent since the demand for horticulture and animal products is increasing very rapidly and this will require some shift of area away from production of foodgrains. Therefore agricultural productivity in foodgrain production has to go up handsomely,” he added.
Asserting that a need to increase agricultural productivity which has generally reached a plateau over the years, Dr. Singh said: ” Yields in the Eastern regions of our country are particularly low. The gap between what is achievable and what is actually achieved needs to be bridged. For this we need to strengthen the agriculture research system, the system of extension services and ensure availability of quality inputs to farmers on time.”
“We also need more efficient produce markets so that farmers see tangible gains from their effort and so have the incentive to produce more. There is a big gap between the farm gate prices and the retail prices that the consumers pay. There is also volatility, with prices being low after harvest,” he added.
He further said that the Minimum Support Price Mechanism for pulses and oilseeds should also be made to work more effectively. (ANI)