New Delhi, Apr 10: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the looming food shortages coupled with steep rise in food prices has rendered control of inflation more difficult in India and other developing countries thereby disturbing the macro-economic stability of such economies. The emerging scenario is likely to diminish the ongoing economic reforms, hurting the tempo of growth and force some economies to resort to 'restrictive trade practices', said the Prime Minister while speaking at Global Agro-Industries Forum (GAIF) 2008 here.
But, the Prime Minister made it clear that India could not react to such a situation by returning to an era of blind controls and by depressing agriculture's terms of trade. The global community and global agencies ''must fashion a collective response that leads to a quantive jump in agricultural productivity and output that will increase the farm incomes, contributing greater purchasing power in the hands of poor.'' In this regard, he also reiterated that there was urgent need of bringing about a Second Green Revolution as the first one which made India self-sufficient, has run its course.
The Prime Minister expressed concern over the developing direct link between oil prices and food prices first time in the world. "Food markets have got interlinked to oil markets, making food policy- making complex and uncertain", he added.
Such curious interlink between food and oil has become a reality because some countries turning towards growing biofuels to cut short the import of petroleum products at higher prices. It is worrisome that new economics of biofuels led to shifting of farm land away from food crops, resulting in shortages of food supplies.
Besides that, global warming also impacted negatively the agricultural and food output and water availability. Earlier, the Green Revolution bypassed the drying farming which now needed to be brought under new technologies and production regime, the prime minister said.
He said Indin agriculture is based on small and marginal farmers and small farmers have become unviable propositions. But, ''we need to make the farming viable at this scale'' said Dr Singh seeking the cooperation of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for providing a long term solutions to be problems faced by small and marginal farmers.
''Collectivisation, corporatisation and land consolidation through land alienation are neither possible nor socially desirable... and we cannot wish away the economically unviable farms'', he said and added that ways and means have to be found out in which the farmers can benefit from economies of scale in certain farm operations like farm inputs, credit and marketing support while retaining the family-based small farms.
He also said India needs to focus on the economics of farming operations as a whole, not of crops alone even in promoting agri-business and agro-industries as ''we need a model that can combine economics of small farmers with economics of mass production and modern marketing.'' The Prime Minister also pointed out that without developing agriculture the country cannot alleviate poverty.
For India, the strategy of food processing and food industry needs to focus on generating rural employment also.
Earlier, Dr jacques Diouf, Director General of FAO, Mr Kandeh Yumkella, Director General of UNIDO and Mr Lennart Bage, President, IFAD also addressed the GAIF.