New Delhi: The target of doubling agricultural production in the country within next five years is "achievable" provided more land is brought under cultivation and irrigation and soil fertility are improved, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said on Sunday.
"Food security cannot be dependent on imports. So, doubling agricultural production in five years is a challenge... But this is an achievable target and we will achieve it," Swaraj said at a programme held here to discuss the issue.
She praised the BJP and NDA-ruled states for their achievements in the field of agriculture and made a special mention of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Bihar.
"In 2006-07, the agricultural growth in Madhya Pradesh was 2.5 per cent. Today, after five years, it is 18.96 per cent. In Gujarat, it was 1.10 per cent, while today it is 7 per cent," Swaraj said.
The BJP leader said that in Parliament, the Opposition would support all measures that the government proposes to take to improve agricultural production and the cause of farmers.
"Opposition and the government will not be divided on the issue of agricultural production," Swaraj asserted.
Increasing the land under cultivation, irrigating more land and improving the fertility of the soil were the three issues that need to be looked into, she said.
"New Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are being built but these should not be established on fields which give three crops a year," Swaraj said.
Enumerating the various steps that need to be taken to improve crop yield, Swaraj said new technology and establishment of cold chains will help grow more and better crops as well as save them from perishing due to lack of storage facilities.
"66 million tonnes of crops are destroyed every year due to lack of proper storage facilities. Last year, crops worth Rs 90,000 crore perished due to this," she said.
She praised the government`s soil health card scheme and said it is helping farmers meet the shortcomings of nutrients in their fields.
Swaraj also underlined the need for establishing more seed banks, providing fertilisers at affordable prices, use of right pesticides, and fair and accessible marketing of crops.