Calling in concerted efforts from farmers, policymakers and scientists, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu has emphasised the need to make agriculture diversified, climate-resilient, profitable, sustainable and productive. “We have to make conscious efforts to reduce cereal production and increase the production of pulses, oilseeds and other crops,” he said.
In his address during the presentation of M S Swaminathan Award to Dr. V. Praveen Rao, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu lauded the work of Dr. Rao in helping farmers raise crops with better water management through drip irrigation and other micro-irrigation techniques. He encouraged policymakers and scientists to develop similar ways to help small and marginal farmers and improve water utilisation in their farmlands. Scientists must also make extension programmes accessible and understandable for the common farmer. “Research institutes should reach out to the farming community in the primary language they understand – their mother tongue. They should utilise all the modern audio-visual means to reach the farmers in the villages,” he added.
The Vice President suggested farmers grow crops that are in demand rather than crops that are available in excess. Going beyond traditional crops and diversifying into allied sectors such as livestock, horticulture, fisheries and sericulture will create sustainable incomes for farmers, he said. He asked farmers to overcome the problems due to shrinking farm landholdings, monsoon dependence, limited irrigation, lack of timely access to agricultural credit, un-remunerative prices for farm produce, absence of cold storage facilities and a viable marketing network with a sense of urgency. “We need to expand food processing units and enable better forecasting of prices for farm produce. Only then will Indian farmers realise their full potential and only then will farming become a productive, profitable and sustainable activity for them,” he added.
Minor millets such as sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet and foxtail millet, which are being rediscovered as healthy food options for combating various ailments, have a huge potential to be branded and marketed to earn valuable foreign exchange, VP Naidu pointed. He insisted to develop strategies to reduce the use of agrochemicals and fertilisers for the health of both soil and people, from farmers and farmworkers to consumers.
Telangana Agriculture Minister, Niranjan Reddy, Commissioner of Agriculture, Government of Telangana, M. Raghunandan Rao, President of RICAREA, Dr. M.V.R. Prasad, Chairman and Managing Director, Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd, M Prabhakar Rao, agricultural scientists and others attended the event in Hyderabad.