Hyderabad: Expressing concern over increasing challenges for agriculture, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday emphasised the need for finding new solutions to make agriculture a profitable vocation.
He suggested that farmers diversify to other allied sectors like dairy and poultry to make agriculture more sustainable. He also wanted scientists to come up with high-yielding and pest-resistant variants of crops which will increase farm income.
He delivered the inaugural address at second edition of Agritech South 2020 Exhibition and Agrivision 2020 Conference organised jointly by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Prof Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU) at the University campus here on Saturday.
Speaking on the occasion, Venkaiah Naidu said agriculture as a profession was facing several challenges – primarily, high input costs, instability in yields, low returns, debts, and growing demand for food, among others.
He asserted that the governments should not offer any sops to farmers to make agriculture sustainable and instead, ensure remunerative prices for their produce. Applauding the Telangana government for constructing major irrigation projects like Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme (KLIS), he stressed on the need to preserve and conserve traditional water bodies.
The Vice President suggested the agricultural scientists to encourage crop diversification to make agriculture more profitable for farmers.
“Farmers must be educated on the need to divert from growing traditional crops like rice and wheat for gaining of more profits. There is a need to encourage agriculture allied activities like pisciculture, horticulture, prawn culture, poultry, dairy and sericulture in addition to regular farming activities. “Farmers who had value additions like poultry or dairy in addition to agriculture, had never committed suicide,” he added.
Naidu wanted farmers and scientists to focus on food processing which could ensure remunerative price to various crops. He stressed the need to adopt latest technologies on all fronts from seeds to post-harvest management to marketing, to improve productivity on par with the other leading nations.
He urged all entrepreneurs to evolve effective models in the food processing sector after consulting the scientific community, experts and farmers.
Reiteraing the need for sustainable agriculture, Venkaiah Naidu urged the agricultural universities and Krishi Vignana Kendras (KVK’s) scientists to work together to improve productivity.
He also urged the students and research community to spend half of their time on the field with the farmers to gain practical exposure and knowledge. “Farmer is the best teacher on agriculture,” he said.
Agriculture Minister S Niranjan Reddy stated that agriculture and allied sectors were the backbone of the country. He said Telangana State has a farmer friendly government which brought several schemes to support the farming community.
“The Rythu Bandhu Scheme is benefitting about 54 Lakh farmers, while Rythu Bhima scheme for providing group life insurance to farmers is also of great support to the farmers in the State,” he said. He stated that despite the doubling of yield in the recent years, several factors have contributed to the depleting farmers income.
Later, the Vice President inaugurated the Agritech South 2020 exhibition at the University sports complex. PJTSAU vice-chancellor Dr V Praveen Rao, CII Telangana chairman D Raju, ICRISAT director general Dr Peter Carberry, CII Telangana Agriculture panel convenor GV Subba Reddy, Agritech South chairman Anil Kumar and others, were also present.
Several farmers, university officers, large number of students, agriculture faculty and scientists attended the three-day event aimed to create business opportunities to the technology holders and also introduce practical learning to the technology users and farmers, with special focus on farmer-expert interface.