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It's challenge to double agri growth: Singla

Written by: Staff
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Chandigarh, Dec 4 (UNI) Agricultural growth in the country has to double and cross four per cent through a public-private investment, Punjab Finance and Planning Minister Surinder Singla said here today.

Delivering the valedictory address at the Agro Tech 2006 organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Northern Region, Mr Singla said it is a big challenge before the Indian farmers and industry.

Mr Singla recalled that when Punjab government invited large corporate groups to enter into the agribusiness in the state, they said they would like to increase the farmers' income to 45 per cent of what the consumers pay for the end produce. At present, they get a dismal share. "To improve the lives of farmers and to ensure growth in agriculture, farmers need fairs like Agro Tech," Mr Singla said.

The Minister said the main worry was whether people will stay in agriculture or leave it because Indian agriculture has become so unremunerative. "That is where the role of Agro Tech comes in," the Minister said, adding that the northern states of Punjab and Haryana have to shift from a two crop to a multi crop system.

"Regardless of the challenges, there is a huge opportunity for the farmers of region. There is a global need for food and the farmers have the capacity to respond to the challenges and provide the food," he said.

"India is a very attractive destination for agribusiness and marketing. Agro Tech 2006 has been a very timely and appropriate event because the agriculture sector is facing a crisis," said Mrs Asha Sharma, Financial Commissioner and Principal Secretary, Agriculture, Haryana.

Mrs Sharma elaborated that the Green Revolution in the 70s had led to a quantum jump in food production and India had become a food surplus and exporting economy from a food deficit country. "Now we have to think in terms of a second green revolution, because India has had to import wheat this year. There has been a shortfall of one per cent in the production of wheat in Punjab and Haryana this year.

So there are lots of ills that need to be attended to," she substantiated.

According to Mrs Sharma, 70 per cent people depended on agriculture and 70 per cent of farmers were small and marginal ones with fragmented holdings. Agriculture production growing at 1.6 per cent growth has not kept pace with population growth at 1.9 per cent, she said.

"If we don't improve the efficiency, farming will no longer be remunerative. Farmers are already losing interest, there are no post harvest facilities for which there is a great potential and tremendous opportunity for industry and private players. India has may competitive advantages," said Mrs Sharma, calling all stake holders in the sector to come together to ensure food security, affordable price to consumers and just remuneration to farmers.

"A private public partnership for a technological leap to make farming more cost effective is the need of the hour," she said calling for initiatives of the Agro Tech type.

UNI DP SBA HS1940

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