Rainfed-dryland farming needs more investment (Lead)February 15th, 2012 - 7:23 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday called for more investment in agriculture, especially in rainfed and dryland farming, to achieve food security and inclusive growth.
Addressing a national workshop on policy initiatives in agriculture with particular reference to rainfed and dryland farming here, Patil said 60 percent of India’s cultivated area were under rainfed and dryland farming, which provided 44 percent of country’s production of foodgrains, including coarse cereals, pulses and oil seeds, and supported 40 percent of the country’s 1.2 billion population.
“But it has very low investment as compared to irrigated areas. I think this needs urgent attention,” Patil said.
The workshop is the part of the initiative of the President for enhancing farm productivity, especially in rainfed dryland areas.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India’s agriculture will face enormous challenges in the coming years.
“As an illustration, to meet the total demand of food grains in the year 2020-2021, we need a growth rate of at least two percent per year in food production. This has to be contrasted with the average annual rate of only one percent that we achieved in the 10-year period from 1995-96 to 2004-05,” he said.
“Although food production has regained momentum in the recent years, we cannot afford to be complacent since the demand for horticulture and animal products is increasing very rapidly and this will require some shift of area away from production of food grains. Therefore, agricultural productivity in food grain production has to go up handsomely,” he added.
Noting that farmers had “done us proud”, the prime minister said food grain production could touch a record 250 million tonnes in 2011-12, exceeding the annual target by five million tonnes.
“But we still have a long way to go,” he said.
Singh called for a special focus on the rainfed dryland areas, where farm productivity continued to be low.
The president in her address called for improved livestock management that could lead to a huge accretion to milk yield, increasing business opportunities and improving nutrition.
Also food processing industries could do the value addition, improving the viability of farming activity and making it an “enterprise”. That would enhance purchasing power of the farmers and boost the economy as a whole, she added.
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