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"Shouldn't allow food deprivation in India"

Posted on Feb 01, 09:12PM | IBNS

New Delhi, Feb 1 : Emphasising the need for the nation's food security, President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday inaugurated the "Doubling Food Production in Five Years" Conference organized by Crop Care Federation Of India (CCFI) here.

Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers Shrikant Kumar Jena outlined the necessary agenda for the food sector and the improvements and reforms required to meet this essential goal.

The increase in food prices over the last year has not only burdened the common man while severely impacting economically weaker sections of society, it has also cast a shadow on the Indian growth rate with its inflationary impact, said the ministers.

Inaugurating the conference, Mukherjee, said: "Food deprivation should not be allowed to continue in India and was hopeful of early passage of the proposed Food Bill. Food production deserves high priority in our policy formulation. Today, agriculture which supports the livelihood of more than 50pc of the population lags behind other sectors with GDP contribution declining from 23pc to 15pc by the 11th Five year plan.

"According to a study, 1pc growth in agriculture sector is 2-3 times more effective in reducing poverty than similar growth in any other sector. Union Budget 2010 had defined a four pronged strategy to alleviate agriculture, and be an effective agent for change in rural areas. I thank Shri Sharad Pawar for his persistent efforts in this direction."

Pawar said: "Food security is a major concern for the nation. For enhancement of yields we must adopt modern methods of agriculture. We must also encourage pilot projects that evaluate the efficacy of these methods and technologies.

"GM crop is another important component in this process. Private and public investment in infrastructure should be encouraged and costs should be managed for long term sustainability."

Jena, said: "Each state has its own requirement for agricultural inputs dependent on soil conditions, water resources and crop requirements. We therefore need a time bound process to transform recommended processes in to on the ground action. Public private partnership can be successful in helping double food production in five years."

Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat, said, "Water needs are expanding across all sectors of society. Per capita availability of water in India is already low compared to other countries. Water storage capacity in India is also very short of requirement.

"The 12th Five year plan is targeting almost three times capacity enhancement of 11th Five year plan. We are looking at increasing water efficient by 20pc and technological inputs will play a key role in this process."

R.D. Shroff, Chairman, CCFI, said, "Public private partnership has helped the country deliver record high in food grain production and even better result is expected this year. India could become the food basket of the world with the right inputs.

"Private sector is playing an important role across a spectrum of collaborations including seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, finance, and infrastructure amongst others."

The second day's sessions of the conference include panel discussions on cooperation between government and regulatory authorities, role of seeds and GM crops in doubling food production, government policies and post harvest management, Agrochemicals and international experiences in agricultural productivity improvement.

Some key panellists for the day comprise of Dr RB Singh, Dr Patrick Moore, Dr Ayyappan (DG ICAR), Dr. Mauricio Antonio Lopes (President, EMBRAPA, Brazil) and renowned economist and professor, Dr. Bibek Debroy (Center for Policy Research), to name a few.

The final day's events include the valedictory function which will be led by Bharaiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj. This will be followed by felicitations and remarks by renowned speakers from various institutions, thus culminating the conference.