American billionaire, philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has called for making Indian agriculture profitable with fair doses of technology and innovation, helping small farmers.
He was addressing the valedictory of AP Agri-Tech Summit2017 at APIIC grounds in coastal city of Visakhapatnam on Friday.
"When I say agri transformation I mean a shift from agriculture based merely on subsistence into one that is run like a business. It is efficient, profitable and meets the needs of producers and consumers," Bill Gates explained. He said that half of India's population suffers malnutrition and small farmers and women are malnourished and trapped in subsistence farming. "That is why investment in agriculture and health are top priority of our Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation," he said.
He further said that efforts must be taken to help farmers to contribute to national growth rather than forcing them to drag the economy. "Then growth will become inclusive leading to a larger GDP that lets people out of poverty. We can produce enough nutritious food for a healthy labour force for the future. We need to increase the productivity of small farmers and provide them linkages to markets," he said calling for transfer of technology from labs to land.
Lauding India's efforts to convert cash economy into digital, he said digital financial services can be of help as small holder farmers need money to buy seeds, fertiliser and veterinary care. "In cash economy, borrowing is expensive. India is becoming a leader in digital financial inclusion. It is great to see Andhra Pradesh delivering fertiliser subsidy through digital transfer," he said. "The future of AP depends on small holder farmers. The state is improving roads connectivity, micro irrigation and digital soil mapping transforming agri-sector and setting model for others," he said.
Recalling Bill Gates' association with him way back when he was chief minister of united AP, Nara Chandrababu Naidu requested Bill to be the honorary chairman of the organisation proposed to be set by AP government for sanitation. Earlier, Bill Gates got a grand welcome by Naidu on his arrival at the Visakhapatnam airport.