Focus on agriculture: President to Govt

President Pratibha Patil on Friday called the government`s attention to agriculture, asking it to enable a second green revolution to feed the country`s poor as proposed under a food security bill.

New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil on Friday
called the government`s attention to agriculture, asking it to
enable a second green revolution to feed the country`s poor as
proposed under a food security bill.

Such a revolution, she said, would also create jobs in
rural India.

"Indeed agriculture needs to be developed with urgency
and in a focussed manner for a myriad of reasons.

"Among them is the goal for achieving the national
objective of food security for all, and for promoting welfare
of the large agriculture dependent population of our country,"
Patil said inaugurating a conference on `Rural Prosperity
Through Better Agriculture`.

Food security is a key promise of the UPA and the
government is in the process of finalising a Bill for the
proposed Act, under which 25 kg of wheat or rice would be
provided at Rs 3 per kg to the poor.

At present, the BPL ration card holders get 35 kg of
foodgrain per month at Rs 4.15 per kg of wheat and Rs 5.65 per
kg of rice.

The President also asked the industry to "seriously look"
at the food processing sector as an investment option as the
processing level of agricultural crops is currently very low.

"The green revolution (in 1960s) which made the nation
self sufficient in foodgrains has run its course, its outcome
need to be boosted by another cycle," Patil said.

"We need a second green revolution that maximises
productivity and generates income and employment opportunities
for the rural population," she stressed.

The President highlighted that foodgrains production has
tripled in last four decades to 230 million tonnes, but said
the demand is estimated to rise to 320 million tonnes by 2025
owing to rise in population.

The country`s farm sector expanded by a robust 4.4 per
cent in the July-September quarter and the Agriculture
Ministry expects it to end the year with over four per cent
expansion.

Patil said there was a need to focus on raising the crop
productivity in rain-fed areas and strengthening the "weak"
extension machinery so that inputs like seeds, fertilisers,
pesticides and new technologies reaches to farmers on time.

"We still face the challenge of enhancing our
productivity levels, which are low as compared to the rest of
the world. We need to bridge these productivity gaps," she
said and asked agri-scientists to find solutions for meeting
this challenge.

Noting that growth in agriculture is two-three times more
effective in raising the incomes of the poor, she said the
farm sector needs to have linkages with other sectors of the
economy for inclusive growth of the country.

"Basic to rural prosperity is the holistic development of
agriculture and the allied sectors. However, to realise its
full potential as a promoter of growth and as an alleviator of
poverty and unemployment, agriculture itself needs to grow,"
she pointed out.

PTI