Chennai: There is imminent need to make agriculture more efficient, resilient, profitable and productive to ensure food and nutrition security to millions of people, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu said today.
In his virtual inaugural address at a conference on “Science for Resilient Food, Nutrition and Livelihoods: Contemporary Challenges” organised by the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in Chennai, Naidu said pre-harvest and post-harvest losses have to be minimized.
Stressing the need for improving the market infrastructure and the national road and transportation network, he said farmers should be able to get their produce from the farm gates to markets at reasonable cost.
We must step up investments in improved storage, processing and preservation to retain the nutritional value of food products, rather than investing in highly processed foods, he added.
“If we are to ensure food and nutrition security to millions, there is an imminent need to make agriculture more efficient, resilient, profitable and productive”, Naidu said.
Food, agriculture and trade policies have to be constantly reviewed and updated to suit the times. ‘We must also reorient our agricultural priorities towards more nutrition-sensitive food’, the Vice-President said.
Noting that diets of poor quality were a principal contributor to the multiple burdens of malnutrition–stunting, wasting, micro-nutrient deficiencies, overweight and obesity, the Vice-President said both undernutrition early in life and overweight and obesity were significant risk factors for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
“Our policies should promote investment in irrigation infrastructure. Likewise, national food and agricultural strategies and programmes should step up investment in R and D to raise productivity of nutritious foods and help reduce their cost”, he said.
Stating there was much to achieve in terms of anticipatory research where proactive action should be taken, he said, “farmers in villages are benefitted from anticipatory warning as we see from the current experience with locust attacks.”
“Similar anticipatory warnings are being done in natural hazards such as floods through informing individual farmers”, he pointed out.
He said anticipatory research, participatory research and translational research (converting theoretical know how into field level do how) were all important.
“Our laboratories must be firmly linked to our farms and fields and technology transfer and farmer education must happen seamlessly. We must also make the best possible use of ICT to remain connected with the farmers so that they may receive timely advice and inputs crucial to the success of their crop”, Naidu said.
Pointing out that India was a treasure trove of traditional wisdom when it comes to agriculture, the Vice-President said ‘instead of rejecting this wisdom as archaic, we must make every attempt to integrate the best of these techniques into agriculture along with modern technology.’
He said the government has set a target of doubling farmers’ income by the year 2022 and it has recently announced a number of measures that will help in achievingthis ambitious goal.