Agriculture sector needs to improve to combat food inflation: CII Chairman

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New Delhi, Jan 21 (ANI): Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) Chairman Rakesh Bharti Mittal has said that it is essential for the agriculture sector to move forward to combat food inflation.

"Agriculture needs to move to the next level and if the Prime Minister is talking about the secondary green revolution, if we are look at feeding more people in India as the population grows, if we feel more food is required because there are people who are moving above the BPL (Below Poverty Line) and getting to have a second meal in a day, if we believe that young demographic India is changing from a supply-led to a demand-led agriculture, all in all we need to take agriculture to the next level," said Mittal in an exclusive interview to Asian News International (ANI) on Thursday.

Mittal further said the involvement of private sector would contribute in better research, which would contribute in the economy of the country.

"One area, which I also believe needs to be looked at is the involvement of the private sector. I think while the government of India, the state government has put in regulations and statutory laws to protect the small and marginal farmers, my belief is that the same work in benefit of those farmers," said Mittal.

"There is no worthwhile research which has happened. Extension services are almost insignificant and they are nil; the public sectors or the universities have failed on that part. So clearly, this is an area where private sector can come in, on the research, on extension services," he added.

Mittal insisted the Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act allows farmers of all states to sell their products only in government-regulated markets as it would benefit common people.

"The farmers should be given the flexibility to sell directly to the food processors, to the retailers, and to the aggregators and consolidators. This will in turn ensure that the wastages reduce. It will also ensure better terms and better returns for the farmers because they don't have to go and wait at the mandis (wholesale vegetable markets). They are at the mercy of the middleman," said Mittal.

"They can have their terms and conditions and contracts signed, they get right payment, they get right price because prices are available everyday. So they get a better return. I think we don't really realize that ultimately it is the consumer who is suffering the most," he added.

Food inflation has dropped to 15.52 per cent for the week ended January 8 from 16.91 per cent recorded in the previous week on the back of high vegetable prices. By Pooja Shali (ANI)

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