New Delhi, Apr 9 (UNI) The government is launching a pilot project with a budget of Rs 40 crore to promote agro-industries in rural areas and production catchments for sustainable agricultural growth.
Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, announced this while inaugurating first Global Agro Industrial Forum (GAIF) here today.
He said a large number of post harvest technologies have been introduced in the recent past, agro-processing enterprises based on these technologies would be developed for specific production catchments, established in collaboration with self-help groups and operated with adequate hand holding by the knowledge partners to ensure the overall success.
The programme would be upgraded based on the success of these pilot enterprises, Mr Pawar added.
Underlining the importance of agro-industry in rural economy, the Minister said that promotion of agro-industries in rural areas and production catchments could create livelihood opportunities at a fraction of the cost of creating jobs in the organised sectors.
The agricultural produce undergoes the required processing without much loss of time and therefore minimising the post harvest losses. While a part of the processed products is retained in the production catchments for consumption, the surplus is suitably transported to urban areas for consumption or further value addition.
In doing so, a large part of residual biomass is retained in the production catchments which not only reduces urban pollution but, actually enriches the soil leading to further improvement in productivity, he said.
Urging the agricultural scientists to work for suitable use of harvested biomass, Mr Pawar said that only about one-third of the harvested biomass is used as the main produce. The remaining two-thirds is generally classified as residue or 'waste'. If the total biomass is suitably processed in production catchments, it would add significantly to the income and employment of farm-families and thereby to their quality of life.
Expressing concern over impact of climate change on agricultural production, the Minister said there is a concern worldwide about rising food prices and food security in the coming years on account of declining production due to climate changes, rising demand because of economic growth and pressure on account of bio fuels.
Mr Pawar also said that ''It is important to produce efficiently, it is also equally important that the agricultural produce is managed, processed to add value and marketed efficiently and by this, it will not only conserve the agricultural produce, additional income and job opportunities would also be generated.'' He expressed the hope that scientists would overcome technological barriers to agricultural production even under the new threat of climate change.
The Global Agro-Industrial Forum (GAIF-2008) organised by the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD), is the first global gathering of senior-level policy makers from national and local governments, leaders of food industries, UN technical agencies, civil society organisations and agro-industry specialists involved in fostering the development of competitive agro-partnership for future action.
During three-day meet GAIF will suggest actions for improving agro-industrial competitiveness in ways that can contribute to broad based economic development and poverty alleviation. About 500 delegates and senior level government officials from 100 countries are expected to participate in the GAIF-2008.
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