President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday called for scaling up agriculture in the country so that the hard-working farming community benefits from it.
“Indian agriculture needs a renewal of its marriage with contemporary technology, protection against climate change, price fluctuations and demand shocks; and sustained investment by and partnership with business. Together these will enhance agricultural value and competitiveness – as well as lead to better incomes,” the President said in his address while inaugurating the 13th Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Agro Tech India 2018, a premier agri and food technology fair, here.
“The challenge is to scale up,” Kovind said, adding that these were the areas on which the government has been focusing.
“The Indian farmer has proven to be remarkably adaptable – unafraid of innovation, new techniques and scientific inputs. He has been bold in embracing risk and converting risk into opportunity. As a result India has emerged as an exporter of key agricultural and allied products such as rice, marine products, fruits, vegetables and even flowers. Our farmers supply commercial crops like cotton to the rest of the world.
“Agriculture is more than just a profession. It is a calling, a tradition and a way of life. Agriculture has been central to Indian identity for thousands of years, ever since our ancestors planted grains in the Indus Valley. Even today, agriculture employs 50 per cent of our work force and makes up about 15 per cent of our nation’s gross value added (GVA),” Kovind said.
He said that public-private partnerships in agriculture have the potential to modernise the sector and provide numerous benefits to small farmers.
The President expressed his concern over the burning of crop residue and the pollution it was causing.
“Today, we are facing a problem related to disposal of crop residue and of safe and clean removal of husk or stubble. The burning of such items is leading to pollution that affects even little children. It is for all of us, including the state governments, the skilled and large-hearted farmers, and other stakeholders, to come up with a solution. And no doubt technology will help us find a solution.”
Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Radha Mohan Singh, Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Punjab Governor V.P. Singh Badnore, Haryana Governor Satyadeo Narain Arya and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar were also president on the occasion.
The CII Agro Tech this time has 158 domestic exhibitors and 37 international exhibitors.
In his address, CII President Rakesh Bharti Mittal said: “As our farmers have met the goal of food security, farming should now be seen as a wealth creation tool. Today’s new age farmer is an entrepreneur and CII is doing a lot to contribute to the cause of doubling the farmers’ income.”
Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said: “We have doubled the investment in the agriculture sector to around Rs 450 crore per year from Rs 200 crore previously. “
Ajay.S. Shriram, Chairman, CII Agro Tech India, 2018, said: “Since its inception in 1994, CII Agro Tech has brought together agribusiness communities from all around the world. The CII Agro Tech India 2018 focuses on leveraging innovation and technology for sustainable development of agriculture and doubling farmers’ income.
“Spread over 16,000 sq.metres of space, 14 states and eight countries are participating in the agri technology fair. Over 50,000 farmers are expected to visit us during the event.”