New Delhi, Jul 16 (UNI) President Pratibha Devisingh Patil today called for keeping agriculture at the centrestage of the nation's development agenda and constantly enhancing crop productivity to usher in a Second Green Revolution.
The President said this while laying the foundation stone for the Bharat Ratna C Subramaniam Auditorium and dedicated the symposium hall of the National Agriculture Science Centre (NASC) to Mr Annasaheb P Shinde.
She said, ''We must enhance productivity on a constant basis and bring about a second Green Revolution which, along with agro-biotechnology, can translate into an ever-Green Revolution in India''.
Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has already taken the initiative to establish one of the world's largest and well- organised gene bank of crop genetic resources. Agricultural growth would also depend on technological inputs relating to water management systems, better seeds and farming practices, she added.
''I am sure the institutes in the ICAR, the universities and the industry will be able to join hands to develop new technologies in these areas. The research system should intensify linkages with the public and private extension systems at all levels, particularly at the district and lower levels where the actual uptake and impact is seen,'' Ms Patil said.
In her ICAR Foundation Day Lecture, the President also flagged gender concerns in agriculture, ''Women undertake approximately 65 per cent of the farm work from planting to harvesting and post-harvest operations. Pro-women policies and approaches would invariably result in increased production. I would encourage technological options that take into account gender concerns while designing tools and equipment, particularly which are used by women to make their farm work somewhat easier. I am glad to know that the ICAR has established a National Research Centre on Women in Agriculture for enhancing technological empowerment of women in agriculture and allied sectors.'' Addressing scientists and other dignitaries, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar stated that huge investments made in agriculture in the last few years have started paying dividends. The recent decisions regarding increase in the MSP of paddy and incentives on use of nutrient-based fertilizers are expected to help in improving overall farm profitability, productivity and production.
Mr Pawar expressed the hope that the country would have rich Kharif harvest especially of rice, maize and soybean.
Elaborating the growth of Indian agriculture over the years,The Minister said, ''Starting with foodgrains production of about 51 million tonnes in 1950-51, today we have achieved an all time record harvest of 231 million tonnes of foodgrains. The net sown area since 1970 has remained practically static, around 140 million ha, of which more than two-thirds is rain-fed. Thus the four-fold increase in the production has come about by the increase in productivity for which our agricultural scientists also deserve compliments. Our procurement of wheat during the years has not only exceeded the target but reached an all-time high of over 22.5 million tonnes.'' Similarly, our achievements in horticulture, fisheries and livestock have placed us among the leading producers of fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, fish etc. Although the country has made progress in the development of infrastructure, the outstanding contributions of various technologies generated in agricultural research institutions have lent strength to the self-reliant food security, something that still eludes several nations of the world, Mr Pawar added.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Home Minister Shivraj Patil and renowned scientist Dr M S Swaminathan also spoke at the function.
Family members of Mr Subramaniam and Mr Shinde were also felicitated by the Agriculture Minister on the occasion.
UNI BBS AM KN1708