New Delhi: Former President A P J Abdul Kalam Thursday hoped that the country's overall foodgrains production would be better this year despite rainfall deficit.
Deficit rains have affected kharif (summer) crops in the 2014-14 crop year, forcing the government to keep kharif foodgrains output estimate slightly lower at 120.27 million tonnes. It is aiming to cover the likely gap in production in the ongoing rabi (winter) season.
"Inspite of rain problems, I hope this year we will have good crop. Last year, farmers had harvested over 260 million tonnes of foodgrains," Kalam said addressing a symposium organised by the Dabur group's subsidiary Ayurvet Ltd.
Farmers have been producing an average 200 million tonnes of foodgrains for last few years. However, there is a need to increase per capita income of farmers by encouraging farm production with value addition, he said.
"Agriculture has a key role in reducing poverty since maximum people live in rural areas... The global objective of halving poverly levels by 2015 is unlikely to be reached at current levels of assistance to agricutlure," Kalam said.
Asserting that the livestock development is directly proportional to national development through agriculture, Kalam called for investment in livestock sector.
In spite of pressure on land, scarcity of pasture land, shortage of feed and fodder and lower yields, the country's livestock sector is showing better promises than the agriculture sector, he noted.
To boost livestock sector, Kalam suggested additional physical and financial capital for introduction of new enterprises regarding livestock besides research and development in veterinary health.
On the dairy sector, Kalam said that though the country tops the world in milk production but "we have to go further and make rapid strides to use this base for enhancing our economic development."
"It is essential to increase the production of milk by the overall increase in the number of high yielding cows and buffalo population in all parts of the country," he said, adding that there is also a need to introduce the sustained use of pharmacovigilance practice to ensure standard of feed and improving the health of animals.
Emphasising the need to address the concerns of feed and fodder shortage in the country, Kalam said that for increasing supply of green herbage, there is a need to conserve degraded pasture lands and development of wastelands.
"Improving the utilisation of straw is a big opportunity and scientists are confident about the breakthrough," he said.
He further said that it is essential to increase fodder production by increasing area under cultivation by 12 per cent of the total cultivable land. Also, there is a need to carry out research for producing quality fodder from dry land without any pesticide effects and toxic effects in the wake of environment pollution.
He called for a government policy to ensure availability of feed and nutrition for cattle at affordable prices.
Kalam also stressed on the need to improve milk yields in unproductive cattles and suggested the study of the model created by Baba Sri Bhadriya Maharaj in desert area of Rajasthan in this regard.