President favours agriculture, industry as joint enterprise

February 13th, 2010 - 6:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha Patil New Delhi, Feb 13 (IANS) President Pratibha Patil Saturday called for a joint venture between agriculture and corporate sector to boost farm output that contributes just 18 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while employing 60 percent of the workforce.
“Industry-agriculture joint enterprises can be complementary,” Patil said at the 48th convocation of the Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI) here.

“I believe that farming is the biggest private enterprise in our country. Therefore, there are many benefits of agriculture and the corporate sectors working together. Agriculture requires substantial inputs, in terms of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and implements, among others.

“Once agricultural produce is ready, there is the aspect of marketing and food processing. There exists an array of activities, where industry can involve the agriculturist as a stakeholder,” she explained expressing hope for more synergy between the two.

“I am glad that some work and thinking on this has begun, in which agricultural bodies as well as industrial and business associations are participating. Women farmers, whose number and contributions are significant in Indian agriculture, must be involved, including through the self-help group mechanism as well,” the president said.

She exhorted agricultural scientists to help farmers and bring all round socio-economic development in the country.

“It is seen that successes in the laboratory are often missing on the field. The pace of technology dissemination from the lab to land is slow. Research institutions should also develop partnerships with the farming communities, for the effective transfer of technology.

“Agriculture research must focus on priorities that meet national priorities,” she stressed.

She said the economic limitation of small-sized land operations is the main challenge of the 21st Century, for sustained increase in production. This calls for structural and organizational changes in managing the farm sector in India.

“The important issue is how to develop institutional mechanisms so that farmers get higher incomes by realizing the advantages of beneficial technologies, aggregation of inputs and outputs, value addition and marketing.

“Agencies closely linked with agricultural development like the National Rainfed Area Authority and other stakeholders could consider evolving a basic ‘model’ to bring farmers into partnership arrangements.”

Patil also expressed concern over the lower level of farm produce in India as against countries like China.

“Taking the example of rice - our average crop yield in 2008 was 3.3 tons per hectare, roughly double the average that our farmers were getting in 1960, but half of the yield in China and also less than that of Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

“In wheat productivity, gains have also been impressive. It is 2.8 tons per hectare, triple of that we had in 1960, but half of what is produced in the European Union countries. We need to bridge these productivity gaps,” she highlighted.

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