Centre-States coordination must for farm sector: Vice-Prez

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Hyderabad, Mar 31 (PTI): Emphasising on the much-needed reforms in the agriculture sector to improve the status of farmers and make agriculture profitable, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday called for cooperative action by the Centre and States to achieve the objective.

He suggested a dialogue with farmers and agricultural scientists to design a system that delivers tangible results to the farming community.

Naidu, speaking here after releasing the book Agriculture in India: Contemporary Challenges - in the Context of Doubling Farmers Income authored by former Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary Mohan Kanda, advised top priority and coordinated action by both the Centre and the States with a team India spirit to bring in reforms.

He said the 4 Ps--Parliament, political leaders, policymakers and press must pro-actively adopt a positive bias towards agriculture as the farmers are unorganised and voiceless.

In fact, a radical shift in making agriculture profitable is the need of the hour. We must also ensure that the growth is steady and sustainable, an official press release quoted him as saying.

The problems that are holding back farmers from realising their full potential must be identified, he said, stating: We cant continue with business as usual.

Referring to key issues affecting agricultural productivity such as the decreasing sizes of land holdings, continued dependence on the monsoon, inadequate access to irrigation and lack of access to formal agricultural credit, among others, he said, As a result of these factors, agriculture is not seen as a profitable venture.

Naidu observed that many people are leaving agriculture and migrating to urban areas because it is not remunerative because of rising input costs and unfavourable market conditions.

In this regard, he called for long-term policy changes like governance and structural reforms to make agriculture viable.

Suggesting that Centre and States should give a helping hand to the farmers, he said the governments should think beyond loan waivers.

Farmers need timely and affordable credit, assured and quality power, infrastructural support like godowns and marketing facilities, more than just doles, he said.

Reflecting on the good practices that can improve the state of agriculture in the country, Naidu advised governments to encourage farmers to diversify their crops and take up allied activities to mitigate risks in agriculture.

He said that with changing consumption patterns and preferences, organic farming and food processing can be taken up in a big way to make agriculture more profitable.

He also suggested that Farmer Producer Organisations be revived to leverage the economy of scale and increase the bargaining power of farmers.

Despite the numerous challenges, agriculture looks poised for further growth due to the inherent strengths of farmers in the country and the innovations happening in the sector, he said.

In this context, the Vice-President lauded the farmers for achieving the feat of record foodgrain and horticulture production, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Referring to the Prime Ministers call for doubling farmers' income by 2022, Naidu said there was a shift in approach in governments and policymakers from simply production and productivity to a focus on farmer and farmers' welfare.

He said that for this purpose, a holistic strategy was conceptualised and multiple reforms and programmes were introduced, including the recent farm legislations.

Stressing on addressing the problem of yield-risk and price-risk faced by farmers, he called for focusing on key linkages that can add value to farming such as improvement of road infrastructure, storage and warehousing facilities, crop diversification and food processing.

These initiatives can put agriculture onto a more viable, income-generating trajectory, he said.

Elaborating on the importance of crop diversification, he said the consumption patterns in the country have changed over the years with less dependence on cereals for nutrition and increased consumption of protein.

In this regard, he underscored the need to encourage farmers to grow crops that use less water and power.

Expressing happiness about instances of enterprising youth returning to villages and bringing advanced techniques to agriculture, Naidu said this is an encouraging trend and must be further accelerated.

He stressed that agri-entrepreneurship is an effective way to gainfully and sustainably employ and leverage the demographic dividend in the country. PTI SJR NVG NVG