PANTNAGAR: The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh on Saturday said that farmers should be paid remunerative prices and the country must aim at achieving four per cent annual growth in agriculture production to ensure food security.
"Our agricultural production should increase at a rate fast enough to ensure food security for our growing population," Dr Singh said in his convocation address at the G B Pant Agriculture University here.
He said investment in the agricultural sector needs to increase and farm markets should be reformed. "Farmers need to be provided remunerative prices for their produce," he said.
The Prime Minister said efforts must be made to double the farm production. "We must endeavour to raise our agricultural growth rate from around two per cent per annum to four per cent."
In view of drought and floods in some parts of the country, growth in India’s farm production was merely 0.2 per cent in fiscal 2009-10 against an overall economic expansion of 7.4 per cent.
The Prime Minister said the economic growth has to be inclusive but it cannot happen "if it does not benefit our farmers, especially those who are small and marginal." Complimenting the G B Pant University, which is completing 50 years of its inception, Dr Singh, however, said that "there is a widespread feeling that there has not been any really big breakthrough in agricultural technologies since the Green Revolution of the late 1960s." He said this was a big challenge for the Indian Council for Agriculture Research, agricultural universities and scientists.
Dr Singh said India commands about 2.3 per cent of the world’s land area and about 4 per cent of the earth’s fresh water resources but feeds about 17 per cent of the world’s population. "This puts tremendous pressure on our resources and makes the need for newer and better technologies even more critical."
He said investment in the agriculture sector needs to increase, a larger area needs to be covered under irrigation, agriculture markets needs to be reformed and farmers need to be provided remunerative prices for their produce and better quality seeds and inputs. Dr Singh said the Centre has launched a number of schemes and programmes aiming at giving highest priority to the agriculture sector.
The Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna (RKVY) has been launched with an allocation of Rs 25,000 crore as central assistance to the states with a view to incentivise them to make higher investment in agriculture, he said, adding that the National Food Security Mission, the National Horticulture Mission and the Technology Mission on Oilseeds and Pulses have been launched for achieving higher production of food grains, oilseeds and pulses and horticultural crops.
Stating that agriculture extension is another area which needs urgent attention, particularly from the state governments, the Prime Minister said it is often perceived to be the weakest link in the chain of transfer of technology from the research lab to the farmer’s land.
"We must innovate on extension models and specifically integrate the needs of farm households so that the farmers get the latest information about an array of technologies."
Dr Singh said through the National Agricultural Technology Project and National Agriculture Innovation Project, resources are being mobilised for furthering quality research. "We also need a system that transfers the improved technologies to our farmers smoothly and without delay. We need to create an appropriate information technology network through which our farmers can have information on crops and varieties, best practices, market prices and demand and supply gaps," the Prime Minister said.