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Pranab for rethink on agricultural sector to ensure food security

Ludhiana, Nov 27, 2012 (PTI): 16:38 IST
President Pranab Mukherjee today sought a rethink on agricultural sector to ensure food security in the country and said a coherent and comprehensive policy having synergy among various elements be put in place.

He also stressed on the necessity for a collaboration between the states and the central government on monitoring and appraisal of various schemes in the agricultural sector.

"We need to do a rethink on agriculture in India. We need to do this urgently to ensure food security in India. We must have in place a coherent and comprehensive policy that has synergy among its various elements," he said inaugurating the 'International Conference on Sustainable Agriculture for Food and Livelihood Security'.
The conference was organised to mark the golden jubilee celebrations of Punjab Agricultural University here.

Mukherjee said government's initiatives are of little use without efficient systems for their implementation and sought a coordinated and integrated approach at the grassroots level to implement various schemes for agriculture sector.

He suggested various measures to put in place a comprehensive strategy to accelerate agriculture growth after identifying priorities and acting swiftly.

He put training and entrepreneurship development high on his priority and said it required urgent attention.

"To this, I would add the task of developing and reaching appropriate technology to farmers, agricultural marketing reforms, studying the present yield gaps and methods to harvest wastelands, address wastage and overuse of fertilisers and develop simple IT tools for farmers that are user friendly," he said.

Seeking farm mechanisation he suggested linking farms with markets to help employment generation, entrepreneurship development and increased profits to farmers.

Mukherjee also suggested investment in food processing sector to give it a major boost by providing fiscal incentives and easy land leasing policies, especially in rural areas, for it to become a lucrative option, both for farmers and private sector that was willing to invest.

He also sought increase of expenditure on research and development in the agriculture sector from the current level of 0.6 of GDP to 1 per cent in the 12th Five Year Plan.

"I believe that a multi-pronged strategy involving technological development, new marketing methods, precision in farm operations and innovative polices instruments is required to ensure agriculture sustainability and food and livelihood security," he said.

As part of the reassessment process of the sector, he sought mapping and indexing of crops and livelihood to anticipate market demand to ensure maximum output that would give the country an edge in the global market.

Earlier, Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil suggested use of latest technology to extend agricultural knowledge and take up the present and future challenges confronting the humanity.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said agriculture should be made remunerative and the agrarian sector brought out of the present crisis.

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