“Increase the investment share from 3% to 5-10%”
According to Vijay Paul Sharma, Chairman of the Agricultural Costs and Prices Board.
Delivering the keynote address of the SEA (Solvent Extractors’ Association of India) World Castor Conference 2022 on a virtual platform, he said that infrastructure is one of the main pillars of the agricultural sector.
While basic infrastructure such as roads, electricity or connectivity should come from the public sector, infrastructure associated with that such as post-harvest management and other market infrastructure should come from the private sector.
Stating that unfortunately the share of business investment in the agricultural sector today is only 3%, he said, “With 3%, we cannot expect growth in this sector. Let’s try to increase that 3 percent to 5 to 10 percent over the next five years. I’m sure we would completely change the profile of our rural economy.
Technology is another important pillar in the development of agriculture, he said, the focus should be on providing more hybrids and more varieties to farmers.
The important thing here is to bring these existing varieties and hybrids to farmers. He said ensuring farmers get quality seeds would solve the problem, as the country has seen in the case of pulses.
Stressing the need to focus on agricultural mechanization, he said many farmers are complaining about labor shortages and rising wages for farm workers. Stating that the small farm size of many farmers is a hindrance, he said there is a need to find a solution where mechanization is more appropriate to Indian conditions.
Other technological factors related to irrigation, water management, value addition and post-harvest management must be a major driver to boost the agricultural sector, he said.
Stating that Indian agriculture in the future will be driven by new technologies such as artificial intelligence, smart agriculture, etc., he said that digitalization will play a significant role in driving the dynamics of the agricultural sector.
Calling the right kind of incentives for farmers as an important pillar of agricultural sector development, he said he was not talking about government intervention in pricing. “We need to create a system, we need a vibrant industry that is able to provide the right kind of incentive, the right prices to farmers,” he said.
Institutions such as SEA are the other pillars of agricultural development in the country, he said, complementing SEA in providing the right kind of information and extension services to farmers.
Atul Chaturvedi, president of SEA, said that the model castor farms of SEA have shown a significant increase in yield. While the yield from normal farms is in the range of 1.7 to 1.8 tonnes per hectare, the yield from the model farm has been recorded at 5 to 7 tonnes per hectare, he said.
February 25, 2022