Hyderabad: Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao on Thursday called for a paradigm shift in the approach towards agriculture in the country, and said the negative belief that the farm sector was not profitable should be shunned.
“In reality, agriculture is an essential part of the Indian livelihood and its economy. The country should be self-reliant in production of food grains and should reach a stage where it would able to export food grains to other countries,” he said during a meeting with Nabard Chairman G R Chintala and his team that met him at Pragathi Bhavan here.
Seeking the help of Nabard in making agriculture profitable, the Chief Minister urged the apex agriculture bank of the country to draw up plans to encourage agro-based industries and to study food habits and needs of other countries to encourage export of such food material from our country.
Rao, during the lengthy discussion on the development of agriculture and strengthening of rural economy, emphasised that majority of the Indian population was dependent on agriculture and the sector was supplying food for its population and raw material to industries. “Since the Indian economy is agriculture-based, it could withstand all the troubles and tribulations,” the Chief Minister observed, and said the Union government and institutions like Nabard should implement schemes that would encourage agriculture and agro-based industries.
“There are 15 crore families that are dependent on agriculture directly and several crores indirectly. Farmers feed 135 crore people in the country. The country should become self-reliant as far as food grains are concerned. No other country in the world is capable of feeding a vast population like our country. Hence, self-reliance should be achieved in food grains production. Simultaneously, one should study and identify the food needs of other countries, bring in a new policy and export our produce and products to those countries. Nabard should undertake a study on this,” the Chief Minister said.
“In our country, agriculture is practiced in a whimsical manner. The country has a wide variety of soils. We have hilly terrains, cold climate areas, and long coastlines. We have to identify which crop is suitable for which terrain and cultivate only those crops there. The country should be divided into crop colonies,” he suggested.
Calling for implementation of change of cropping pattern, he said that it was not enough merely to increase agriculture production. “There should be suitable marketing strategies in place. Otherwise, we will have to face adverse conditions in the market. Along with the policy on cultivation, proper marketing strategy should be in place,” the Chief Minister opined.
“Agricultural sector also supplies raw material to the industries. Rapid industrialisation should also take place. Hence, it is important to increase agro-based industries in the country. Encourage farmers to go for regulated farming policy for reduction in input costs and simultaneous increase in their incomes. The government should play the role of a facilitator. Alongside regulated farming, agriculture produce should be turned into consumer goods through value addition that would ensure higher profits,” the Chief Minister said.
Stating that farmers should be encouraged to go in for community farming, Rao said: “Supply machines to farmers so that they can process the food grains and sell them. This is precisely the reason why the Telangana government decided to set up Food Processing Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in a big way. This policy should be replicated all over the country. Nabard should prepare schemes and programmes to financially assist the setting up of food SEZs and food processing units,” he said.
“Another problem that the agriculture sector was facing was labour shortage. To get over these problems, mechanisation should take place in a big way in agricultural operations. Sowing and reaping machines should be made available in large numbers. Financial assistance and subsidies to procure these machines should also be extended,” the Chief Minister added.
He also instructed officials concerned to make the functioning of District Cooperative Central Banks (DCCB) Banks more effective.
Ministers S Niranjan Reddy, Errabelli Dayakar Rao, Government’s Chief Advisor Rajiv Sharma, Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar, State Cooperative Bank Chairman Ravinder Rao, State Rythu Bandhu Samithi president Palla Rajeshwar Reddy, Government Whip Guvvala Balraju, Principal Secretaries Janardhan Reddy, Narsing Rao, Ramakrishna, Sandeep Sultania, Chief Minister’s Secretary Smita Sabharwal, Secretary Ronald Ross, Nabard CGM Y K Rao, DGM Prasad Rao, MLAs Challa Dharma Reddy, Marri Janardhan Reddy and others participated in the meeting. The Chief Minister hosted a formal lunch for the Nabard team.
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