Pawar for enhanced seed replacement rates to enhance food producti

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New Delhi, Aug 9 (UNI) Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today stressed the need for enhanced seed replacement targets to increase food production as agriculture continued to be the most important component of the economy.

Inaugurating the National Seminar on Seed and Crop Biotechnology for doubling agriculture production in the country, Mr Pawar said at the time of independence, farmers had to contend with debilitating handicaps like knowledge gap, primitive practices, lack of infrastructure and institutional support for inputs.

Despite rapid strides being made in manufacturing, services and high technology sectors, agriculture is still the largest livelihood provider in the country, particularly in the vast rural areas, he said.

He said since national food security was our prime concern, the government addressed these issues with determination. The policies of the government and the efforts of our scientists and farmers brought about a turnaround in the agricultural production of the country.

He said India's Green Revolution of the sixties and seventies caught the imagination of the entire world. It transformed India from a food deficit to a food surplus country.

Mr Pawar regretted that it is a matter of great concern that after the euphoria of Green revolution, agriculture did not receive the attention and investments required for it to grow on a sustainable basis.

The increase in production has brought in its wake, uneven development across regions and different sections of the farming community. The growing population's increasing demand for food, changing food habits due to the dynamic national economic profile and globalisation have made the need for enhancing agricultural production an imperative that has to be factored into our strategies, he said.

The Agriculture Minister said India achieved a record production of 230.67 million tonnes of food grains during 2007-08 and is well poised to acheive similar production levels in 2008-09.

He said seed is the most important determinant of agricultural production,on which the efficiency of other agricultural inputs is dependent. Seeds of appropriate characteristics are required to meet the demand of diverse agroclimatic conditions and intensive cropping systems.

He said sustained increase in agricultural production and productivity is dependent to a large extent on development of new and improved varieties of crops. The seed sector has made great progress over the last four decades. However, to achieve enhanced food production targets for the future, a major effort will be required to enhance seed replacement rates of various crops, he added.

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