India facing famine, says BJP leader

June 9th, 2008 - 11:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, June 9 (IANS) Former Union Human Resource Development Minister and senior Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Murli Manohar Joshi says India is on the brink of famine on account of an increasing mismatch between foodgrain production and consumption. At an interactive session organised by Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce here Monday,Joshi said: “At present, food security is the most important thing for India. The country can fight without nuclear weapon but cannot fight without food.”

Stressing that food security and food sovereignty are the most important things, he said India’s nourishment levels are far below the international benchmark.

“The country is on the threshold of famine,” the BJP leader said.

He said even Nepal and Sri Lanka could provide more nourishment to their people than India.

Agriculture recorded a growth of 4.5 percent in 2007-08, but its average growth over the preceding three years has averaged 3 percent, below the plan target of 4 percent. This sector contributes 18 percent of national GDP and supports 60 percent of the population.

He said application of too much pesticide and chemical fertiliser was the cause behind low production in recent years.

High yield variety (HYV) seeds require higher quality fertilisers and pesticides, which rob the land of its fertility.

“Now the country should concentrate on careful seed policy, land quality management and water level management,” Joshi said. According to him, a second Green Revolution was needed.

The level of water is receding, so it is imperative to check it and reduce water wastage, he said.

“The country needs investments in agriculture sector,” Joshi said, and called for better transport and storage systems for farmers.

According to ‘India Food Report 2008′, an investment of $23.5 billion in the food-processing sector is in the pipeline.

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