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Government of India
Vice President's Secretariat
08 DEC 2021 7:47PM by PIB Delhi
Vice President calls for concerted efforts to make agriculture profitable, sustainable and climate-resilient

The Vice President today called for concerted efforts to make agriculture climate-resilient, profitable, sustainable and productive while encouraging the farmers to diversify their crops.

Stressing the need to diversify agriculture production in the country through meticulous planning, he said “We have to make conscious efforts to reduce cereal production and increase the production of pulses, oilseeds and other crops”.

Presenting ‘M S Swaminathan Award’ to Dr. V. Praveen Rao, Vice-Chancellor of Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University, he lauded the excellent work of Dr. Rao in helping farmers raise crops with better water management through drip irrigation and other micro-irrigation techniques. Noting that water is a scarce resource, he called upon the policy makers and scientists to come up with similar efforts to help small and marginal farmers to improve water utilisation in their farmlands.

The award was instituted by the Retired ICAR Employees’ Association (RICAREA) and by Nuziveedu Seeds Limited.

Praising Prof. Swaminathan for bringing about an agriculture renaissance in India, Shri Naidu said he has done India proud with his outstanding contribution to agriculture and farming practices.

On this occasion, the Vice President paid rich tributes to the farmers, observing that their progress determines the nation’s progress. Noting that Indian agriculture has made rapid progress, he said that from the problem of shortages at the time of Independence, the country was now facing the problem of plenty in cereal crops. While the production of food grains in 1950-51 was 50.83 million tonnes, it has increased to 308.66 million tonnes in 2020-21. Remarkable growth was also witnessed in the production of milk, eggs, fruits and vegetables, among others.

The Vice President said that farmers need to be encouraged to grow crops that are in demand rather than crops that are available in excess. In this regard, he suggested going beyond traditional crops and stressed the need to diversify into allied sectors like livestock, horticulture, fisheries, sericulture, etc. to create sustainable incomes for farmers.

Noting that key issues that impact agricultural productivity include the shrinking sizes of farm landholdings, dependence on monsoon, limited access to irrigation, lack of timely access to agricultural credit, un-remunerative prices for farm produce, absence of cold storage facilities and a viable marketing network,  he said “we need to address all these issues with a sense of urgency. We need to expand food processing units and enable better forecasting of prices for farm produce. Only then will Indian farmers realize their full potential and only then will farming become a productive, profitable and sustainable activity for them. Improving productivity is also key to meet the nutritional security of our large population.”

Shri Naidu urged both the Centre and the States to work with a well-coordinated Team India spirit to make agriculture profitable. “This is all the more necessary as the vast majority of farmers are unorganized and voiceless”.  He wanted the Four Ps—Parliament, Political leaders, Policymakers and Press to adopt a positive bias towards farming and agriculture.

Shri Naidu called upon scientists to make extension programs accessible and understandable for the common farmer. “Research institutes should reach out to the farming community in the primary language they understand - their mother tongue. They should utilise all the modern audio-visual means to reach the farmers in the villages”, he added.

Pointing out that minor millets like Sorghum, Pearl Millet, Finger Millet and Foxtail Millet are being rediscovered as healthy food options for combating various ailments, Shri Naidu said there is a huge potential to brand and market these healthy foods and earn valuable foreign exchange.

Referring to the potential for India to become a large exporter in high-quality fruits and vegetables, he said that it would not only help the farmers reap the benefits of globalisation but also generate employment in rural India and enable the country to earn valuable foreign exchange.

The Vice President also called for developing strategies to reduce the usage of agrochemicals and fertilizers to not only ensure the health of the soil but also the health of the farmers, farm workers and consumers.  Observing that some of the cancers are associated with toxic chemicals found as remnants in the food, the Vice President stressed the need to develop crop production systems with low use of chemicals. He urged agricultural scientists and the agrochemical industry to work in this direction for the benefit of one and all.

Telangana Agriculture Minister, Shri Niranjan Reddy, Commissioner of Agriculture, Govt. of Telangana, Shri M. Raghunandan Rao, President of RICAREA, Dr. M.V.R. Prasad, Chairman and Managing Director, Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd, Shri M Prabhakar Rao, agricultural scientists and others attended the event.  

Following is the full text of the speech:

“I am delighted to be amidst all of you and present Prof. M S Swaminathan Award to Dr. V. Praveen Rao, Vice-Chancellor of Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University.

Dr. Rao has done excellent work in helping farmers raise crops with better water management through drip irrigation and other micro-irrigation techniques.

Prof. Swaminathan needs no introduction. He is known the world over and has done India proud with his outstanding contribution to agriculture and farming practices. He was the recipient of the first World Food Prize for developing and introducing high-yielding wheat and rice varieties in India during the 1960s. In a few years, wheat production doubled and saved millions from food deprivation. The magnificent work of Prof. Swaminathan contributed significantly in making India self-sufficient in food grains.

Prof. Swaminathan has indeed brought about an agriculture renaissance in India. He was hailed by Time magazine as one of the 20 most influential Asians of the 20th century.

Prof. Swaminathan held many distinguished positions, including, Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Director General, International Rice Research Institute, Chairman of the UN Science Advisory Committee for follow-up action on the Vienna Plan of Action. He was also the Chairman of National Commission on Farmers (2004-06).

It is indeed heartening to see that the Retired ICAR Employees’ Association (RICAREA) and Nuziveedu Seeds Limited are encouraging excellence in agriculture by instituting the Award in the name of Professor M. S. Swaminathan.

Dear sisters and brothers,

As you all are aware, agriculture has always been an integral part of our culture and civilization and is the backbone of India’s rural economy.

లోకంలో ధర్మం బతకాలంటే అన్నం కావాలి. అన్నం కావాలంటే రైతు కావాలి. రైతు ఋణం, తల్లి ఋణం ఎవరూ తీర్చుకోలేరు. ఒకరు అన్నదాత అయితే మరొకరు జన్మ ప్రదాత. నేను రైతు బిడ్డను. రైతు కష్టం తెలిసిన బిడ్డను. రైతు మనసు తెలిసిన బిడ్డను.

‘సర్వేభవంతు సుఖిన:’ అన్న భారతీయ జీవన విధానాన్ని రైతు జీవితంలో మనం స్పష్టంగా గుర్తించవచ్చు. పంటకాలంలో కంకుల్ని పాడు చేయకుండా పిట్టల్ని తోలే రైతు, పంట ఇంటికి చేరగానే వాటికి కడుపారా తిండి పెడతాడు. రైతు పంట పండిందంటే.. ఊరి పంట పండినట్లే. దేశం పంట పండినట్లే. ఈ లోకంలో ఎవరికి ఐదువేళ్ళు నోటిలోకి వెళ్ళాలన్నా, రైతే ఆధారం. చివరకు మొక్కులందుకునే భగవంతుడికి ప్రసాదం కావాలన్నా, రైతు కష్టమే ఆధారం.

Indian agriculture has made rapid progress since independence. There has been substantial improvement in crop production and productivity. While the production of food grains in 1950-51 was 50.83 million tonnes, it has increased to 308.66 million tonnes in 2020-21. Similarly, oilseeds production went up from 5.16 million tonnes in 1950-51 to 36.10 million tonnes in 2020-21. Remarkable growth has been witnessed in the production of milk, eggs, fruits and vegetables, among others.

While a lot of credit goes to the tireless efforts of the hardworking farmers, the contribution of scientists and the policies of successive governments have significantly contributed to the growth of the agriculture sector. There is also a need to express our collective gratitude to the farmers, who have ensured record food grain production despite being hamstrung by the restrictions imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the problem of shortages at the time of Independence, the country is now facing a problem of plenty in cereal crops. However, there is a shortage of oilseeds and pulses. With more than 50 percent of our population still dependent on agriculture for their livelihood, there is a need to diversify the agriculture production in the country through meticulous planning.

We have to make conscious efforts to reduce cereal production and increase the production of pulses, oilseeds and other crops.

The agricultural scientists, policymakers and also the seed industry need to come together and focus on improving the productivity, disease tolerance as well as quality of oilseed crops, pulses, cotton, feed and fodder crops. Similar efforts must be directed at fruits and vegetables so that the farmers can shift from growing cereals and produce the much-required crops I mentioned now. Such a tactful shift is also expected to ensure remunerative prices to farmers.

While encouraging the farmers to diversify their crops, every effort has to be made to make agriculture climate-resilient, profitable, sustainable and productive so that the food and nutritional requirements of millions of people are met. All this requires concerted efforts from every stakeholder. Apart from providing advanced forecasts on weather and the demand and supply situation for major crops, there has to be close monitoring of the stocks of food grains, oilseeds and pulses.

By adopting the right policies, we need to encourage the farmers to grow crops that are in demand rather than crops that are available in excess. I am sure many stakeholders participating in this forum will closely look into this aspect. Key issues that impact agricultural productivity include the shrinking sizes of farm landholdings, continued dependence on monsoon, limited access to irrigation, lack of timely access to agricultural credit, un-remunerative prices for farm produce, the absence of cold storage facilities and a viable marketing network, among other things.

We need to address all these issues with a sense of urgency. Only then will Indian farmers realize their full potential and only then will farming become a profitable and sustainable activity for them. Both the Centre and the States must work with a well-coordinated Team India spirit to make agriculture profitable. This is all the more necessary as the vast majority of farmers are unorganized and voiceless. I have always been highlighting the importance of the need for the Four Ps—Parliament, Political leaders, Policymakers and Press to adopt a positive bias towards farming and agriculture.

నా ఉద్దేశం ఒక్కటే. రైతులకు అర్థమయ్యే రీతిలో శాస్త్రవేత్తలు తమ పరిశోధన సారాంశాన్ని అందించాలి. వాటి పనితీరును క్షేత్ర స్థాయిలో ప్రయోగాత్మకంగా తెలుసుకోవాలి. అప్పడే వ్యవసాయ పరిశోధనలకు అర్థం ఉంటుంది. పరిశోధనల వల్ల రైతులకు లాభం ఉంటుంది.

మొత్తంగా ఇక్కడ గమనించాల్సింది ఒక్కటే రైతుకు అందించాలి అనుకున్న సమాచారాన్ని వారి భాషలోనే, వారికి అర్థమయ్యే విధంగా చేరవేయాలి. దేశంలో చాలా మంది రైతులకు మాతృభాష మాత్రమే తెలుసు. చదువుకునే స్థితిలో ఉన్నవారు కూడా చాలా తక్కువ. ఇలాంటి పరిస్థితుల్లో వ్యవసాయానికి సంబంధించిన అంశాలను ప్రభుత్వం తరుఫున వారికి అర్థమయ్యే భాషలో చేరవేయాలి. ఇందు కోసం సమాచార మాధ్యమాన్ని వీలైనంత మేర సులభతరం చేసే బాధ్యతను రాష్ట్ర ప్రభుత్వాలు తీసుకోవాలి. వ్యవసాయానికి అవసరమైన సమాచారం వారికి అర్థమయ్యే భాషలో, అర్థమయ్యే తీరులో అందుబాటులోకి తేవాలి. శాస్త్రవేత్తలు ఇంగ్లీషులో ప్రచురించిన పరిశోధన పుస్తకాలను వారు చదవడం, ఆచరించడం చాలా కష్టం. దీనితో పాటు రైతులకు వీడియోల రూపంలో వ్యవసాయ సమాచారాన్ని అర్థమయ్యే విధంగా అందిస్తే మరింత ప్రయోజనకరంగా ఉంటుంది.

Dear sisters and brothers,

There is also scope to bring back forgotten minor millets like Sorghum – Jonna, Pearl Millet – Sajja, Finger Millet – Ragi, Foxtail Millet – Korra, Proso Millet – Variga, and Browntop Millet – Andu Korralu which are being rediscovered as healthy food options for combating the problems of diabetes, blood pressure, heart diseases and other ailments that are on the rise in the country.

Besides providing healthy foods, these millets also can help farmers in combating the elements of climate change like low water availability and high temperatures. There is a huge potential to brand and market these healthy foods and earn valuable foreign exchange.

Our country can become a large exporter of agricultural produce to the world if we produce high-quality fruits and vegetables by developing very good quality production and grading systems. We need to develop a reputation in the world as a reliable supplier of high-quality fruits and vegetables and help the farmers reap the benefit of globalisation. It would also help to generate employment in rural India besides enhancing farmers’ profitability and helping the country earn valuable foreign exchange.

Today, there is a growing awareness on the need to reduce the usage of chemicals in agriculture to not only ensure the health of the soil but also the health of the farmers and farm workers as well as the consumers. We need to develop strategies to reduce the usage of agrochemicals and fertilizers. We also have to create awareness on this important issue among the farmers cultivating fruits and vegetables so that the fruits and vegetables we consume have very low chemical residues.

It is a well-known fact that cancers are associated with toxic chemicals found as remnants in the food we consume. Developing crop production systems with low use of chemicals and proper advisory to the farmers on what to use before harvest becomes very important to achieve this. I urge the agricultural scientists and the agrochemical industry to work in this direction for the benefit of one and all.

నా దృష్టిలో మట్టిలోని సారాన్ని మనుగడకు ఉపయోగపడే ఆహారంగా మార్చే పవిత్ర యజ్ఞమే వ్యవసాయం. ఒకప్పుడు వ్యవసాయం పర్యావరణ హితంగా సాగేది. పర్యావరణంలో భాగంగా ఉండేది. క్రమంగా రసాయనాల రాక... పూర్తిగా పరిస్థితిని మార్చేసింది. భూమిని, మనిషి ఆరోగ్యాన్ని రెండింటినీ దెబ్బ తీసింది.

ఇప్పుడిప్పుడే పరిస్థితిలో మార్పు వస్తోంది. క్రమంగా రైతులు ప్రకృతి వ్యవసాయం మీద దృష్టి కేంద్రీకరిస్తున్నారు. ఈ తరహా వ్యవసాయానికి ప్రస్తుతం డిమాండ్ బాగా పెరుగుతోంది. రసాయనాలు వాడకుండా పండించిన ఉత్పత్తులకు మంచి ధర కూడా వస్తోంది.

ప్రభుత్వం దేశాభివృద్ధి కోసం చేస్తున్న వివిధ కార్యక్రమాల్లో యువత భాగస్వామి కావాలి. ముఖ్యంగా వ్యవసాయ రంగంలో యువకులు అద్భుతాలు చేయగలరని నేను బలంగా విశ్వశిస్తాను. వారి తెలివి తేటల్ని కేంద్రీకరిస్తే, వ్యవసాయం తీరుతెన్నులు మారిపోవడం ఖాయం. నిజాయితీతో కష్టపడి పనిచేసే గ్రామీణ యువతరం కూడా వ్యవసాయంపై దృష్టి సారించాల్సిన అవసరముంది.

వ్యవసాయాన్ని లాభదాయకమైన రంగంగా మార్చే దిశగా కేంద్రం అనేక చర్యలు చేపట్టింది. కనీస మద్దతు ధర పెంచడం, సాయిల్ హెల్త్ కార్డ్ పథకం, ప్రధానమంత్రి కృషి సించాయి యోజన, ప్రధాన మంత్రి ఫసల్ భీమా యోజన, ఎలక్ట్రానిక్ నేషనల్ అగ్రికల్చర్ మార్కెట్ (ఈ-నామ్) లాంటి ఎన్నో పథకాలు రైతుల ఆర్థిక స్థితిని పెంచి, దీర్ఘకాలిక ప్రయోజనాలు అందించేవే. ఇంకా మరిన్ని చర్యలు చేపట్టాలి.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I am also happy to see and meet eminent agricultural scientists who have contributed towards improving agricultural productivity in the country.

As you are all aware, we are celebrating “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” and on this occasion, I would like to convey my appreciation to agricultural scientists and all other stakeholders, who contributed to the growth and prosperity of the agricultural sector and farmers.

I urge all of you to continue to contribute in the best possible way for the prosperity of agriculture, farmers and the country in general.

JAI HIND!”

*****

MS/RK