Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday said that providing better prices for agricultural produce and timely, affordable credit to farmers are crucial to sustain agriculture in the country. Citing a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report about an impending global food crisis, he said that “if we provide timely assistance to our farmers, India would not only remain self-sufficient, but also feed the world in the years to come”.
Praising farmers for increased foodgrain production last year despite the severe hardship caused by the pandemic, Naidu was quoted in an official release as saying that there was a need to focus on increasing the storage capacities, remove restrictions on crop transportation and encourage food processing to make agriculture more remunerative. Releasing a book ‘Palleku Pattabhishekam’ by former MP Yalamanchili Sivaji here,he said that villages and agriculture are intrinsically connected and “we must address their issues holistically to bring ‘Gram Swarajya’ to our villages”.
“Farmers need to focus on cost-cutting, along with increasing production. We also need to utilise our resources such as water and electricity more judiciously”, Naidu said. The Vice President suggested the creation of strong lab- farm links to ensure fruitful outcomes to the farmers.
He urged scientists to develop climate and drought- resistant seed varieties. Referring to the growing urban-rural divide, Naidu said that villages should not be seen as mere “factories supplying food to the cities”.
In order to achieve Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of ‘Gram Swarajya’, he called for a renewed national effort through collaboration of civic society, agriculturalists, agronomists, students and researchers to make agriculture profitable and villages thriving economic hubs. He wanted people to return to their roots and work with fellow villagers on solving long-standing problems.
With rising costs of inputs in agriculture, Naidu suggested that natural and organic farming offers great potential in cutting down costs and generating a steady income for farmers. Increasing demand for organic products provide an opportunity to farmers to take up natural farming in a big way, he said.
Naidu also wanted farmers to diversify into allied sectors like poultry, dairy farming, fisheries, horticulture, aquaculture and pisciculture to ensure regular income. On the role of youth, Naidu called for greater participation of the new generation in agriculture – as farmers, researchers,scientists and entrepreneurs.