Soil health, post-harvest management major concern areas; Rs 1-lakh cr fund to address these issues: Tomar

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New Delhi/Davos, Jan 27 (PTI) Flagging health of the soil and post-harvest management as major areas of concern for the Indian farm sector, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Wednesday said the government has set up a Rs 1 lakh crore fund under Aatmanirbhar Bharat programme to strengthen the storage infrastructure and reduce post-harvesting losses.

Speaking at a panel discussion on 'Unlocking Innovation to Transform Food Systems' during the World Economic Forum's week-long online Davos Agenda Summit, the minister also said more than 80 crore people are being provided adequate food through the National Food Security Act, under which the government provides five kg of wheat and rice per person, per month at a highly subsidised price of Rs 2-3 per kg.

He was replying to a query on what actions the government of India was taking to catalyse innovations and seek fresh solutions to transform the food systems.

Tomar said nutrition is a big focus and priority area for the country and the government has launched a National Nutrition Mission also.

On the other hand, wider research by the Indian Council for Agriculture Research (ICAR) is taking place for producing new varieties that can reach everyone.

'The concern is primarily of the soil health. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a programme in 2016 under which 12 crore farmers have been given soil-health cards. We are now emphasising on adoption of these cards to use balanced fertilisers in a more efficient manner and to increase productivity,' Tomar said.

Production and productivity are being ramped up by strong research and development network and we already seeing an upward trend in agri production, he said, adding that ICAR is focussing on developing climate-resilient and nutritious varieties.

Tomar further said, 'Post-harvest management is also a major concern for us and to deal with that, Prime Minister Modi has given a slogan of making India self-reliant.' 'Under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Yojana, we have set up a USD 13 billion dollar (Rs 1 lakh crore) fund for strengthening agri-infrastructure and cold storage, hence reducing post-harvest losses,' he said.

Speaking in the same panel, global fertiliser major Yara International's CEO Svein Tore Holsether said as minister Tomar said, it all comes down to soil health and technology can improve soil health.

'Healthy soil can not only provide better quality and increased farming, but it also leads to reduced carbon footprint and the opportunity to capture carbon from the atmosphere as well,' he said.

'Besides, a large agriculture sector has a direct effect on the economy as a whole. With the tech connectivity and farming, we can really benefit each farmer and society as a whole,' Holsether added. PTI BJ MJH BJ BJ