Government is working toward making Agriculture Profit-Centric and Strengthening Post-Harvest Infrastructure – Gajendra Singh Shekhawat

CHANDIGARH,19.10.20-Confederation of Indian industry (CII) organised a Virtual Conference on ‘Water: Role of Technology Towards Smart Farming’ today as part of CII India International Food & Agri Week 2020. The Conference aimed to understand the importance of agricultural sustainability focusing on technologies, process and data analytics enabling to take holistic, integrated and informed decision.

Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Hon'ble Minister for Jal Shakti, Government of India opined that water security could be achieved by participatory water management. It is necessary to work fast on demand side management, he added. Smart farming and use of technology in irrigation should improve productivity in agriculture. Drip irrigation will save 50 per cent water in the country. Haryana is a good example of crop diversification and it is a big achievement said Shri Shekhawat. He aslo said that we should work towards food production for global needs and help farmers to achieve good prices for their produce to booth income from agriculture.

Dr Alka Bhargava, Additional Secretary - Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India emphasised that we should encourage use of micro irrigation for water-guzzling crops. The nexus between water, food and energy is gradually becoming important. We should focus on intercropping and integrated farming system, Dr Bhargava said.

Mr Ranganath N Krishna, Conference Chairman, and Water Ambassador, Grundfos Pumps India Private Limited remarked that India's water woes will disappear if we save at least 10 per cent of the water used in agriculture. There is a need for implementation of technology, for which quality and affordability of technology, better governance, enabling policies for sustainable development need to be considered.

Mr Nikhil Sawhney, Chairman, CII Northern Region, and Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Triveni Turbines Limited mentioned that technology like drip irrigation can play a major role in diminishing use of water in the agricultural space. There is a need to overhaul, review and reassess the way in which water is used. Farmers should be incentivised in the sense that they must be given water rights which should be tradable, Mr Sawhney said.

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Recent agri reforms & private sector investments will boost Agri Sector - MPs from Haryana

Over 350 farmers attend CII Agri Session

“The recently announced agri reforms and private sector investments will speed up the growth of the Indian Agriculture Sector” opined Dr Arvind Kumar Sharma, Hon’ble MP (Lok Sabha – Rohtak) and Smt Sunita Duggal, Hon’ble MP (Lok Sabha – Sirsa). The Hon’ble MPs made the remarks while addressing farmers at the “Haryana Kisan Goshthi on Development of Agriculture & Horticulture Value Chain as a Strategy for Enhancing Farmers’ Income” at the CII Agro & Food Tech 2020 organised over virtual platform. The Kisan Goshthee was attended by over 350 farmers from across the districts of Haryana.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Arvind Kumar Sharma, Hon’ble Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha – Rohtak), Government of India mentioned that the recent reforms will accelerate growth in agri & allied sector through private sector investment in building infrastructure and supply chains for farm produce in domestic and global market. He assured the farming community that the Government is with the farmers and will not bring any laws that are detrimental to the Indian Agriculture Sector.

In her address, Smt Sunita Duggal, Hon’ble Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha - Sirsa), Government of India, requested that the Government Institutions viz. NABARD and Haryana Horticulture Department amongst others should organise camps in rural areas to hand hold farmers regarding how to obtain loans, form clusters, etc. She emphasised that to realise the vision of doubling farmers’ income, organised efforts are required by both the Government as well as the private sector.

Dr Arjun Singh Saini, Director General – Horticulture, Government of Haryana stressed on the commitment to increase farmers’ income through their initiative to build cluster pack houses in Haryana and building their linkages with the market.

In his address, Mr Rajiv Mahajan, Chief General Manager, NABARD (Haryana Region), remarked that NABARD has released over INR 7000 crores to banks in Haryana for promoting credit to farmers. He further invited entrepreneurs to take advantage of the NABARD supported Incubation Centre at the Haryana Agriculture University.

Dr Arvind Kapur, MD, AcsenHyveg highlighted the need to further synergise Government & Industry in agri sector for ensuring profitable product value and creainge new employment opportunities for farmers.

In his address, Mr Puneet Thind, Founder & Director, Farm Grocer Products Pvt Ltd stated that agriculture in India needs a cluster approach for adopting uniform practices across aggregation, distribution and marketing linkages.

Mr Udit Mangal, VP – Business Development, Pluss Advanced Technologies Pvt Ltd underlined the importance of cold chain solutions to increase shelf life of agri produce and to further transport the same to far flung areas, thereby enhancing farmers’ income.

Sharing the perspective of the farmers, Mr Jasjeet, a Farmer from Haryana stated that “the recently announced 3 Farm Bills have instilled confidence amongst farmers as these bills will help putting our agriculture on the path of development”. In his remarks, Mr Jasjeet requested the Government of India to continue with the provision of MSP for small farmers and monitoring the purchasing practices of private buyers.

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Crop Diversification is the need of the hour – Rajat Aggarwal

R&D and Academia must come together to devise best practices in agriculture

Mr Rajat Agarwal, Chief Executive Officer, Punjab Bureau of Investment Promotion & Commissioner - Excise & Taxation, Government of Punjab, while addressing at the CII Agro & Food Tech Conference on Ushering Green Revolution 2.0 in Punjab, lauded the state's farmers for their diversification efforts, even amid the COVID pandemic. The conference is being organised by CII to mark the week long India International Agri & Food Week 2020.

“Farmers should be motivated to go for crop diversification in a big way by opting for crops like sugarcane, basmati, pulses, fruits & vegetables, he said, adding that this would make the state's agrarian economy more financially sustainable and economically viable.” The state government's concerted push to use the direct seeding of rice technology is expected to save both ground water and power consumption, along with the natural resources of Punjab. He said that R&D and Academia must come together to devise best practices in agriculture which assure results and farmers must be convinced to adopt them.

Intensifying its endeavour towards crop diversification for promotion of horticulture, fruit estates are being established in the state. The Centre of Excellence for Vegetables at Kartarpur, Punjab has been established in in association with Israel to make the Punjab farmers aware of the latest technological and scientific advancements in cultivation of vegetables.

Punjab is looking towards solarisation of tube wells, organic farming, increase in agri exports. Dedicated research centres have been established at PAU, Ludhiana. Mr Agarwal stated that agro processing is the future of Punjab. In its latest policy, RDF and mandi fees is exempted for Agro processing, whole lot of incentives are being given, including GST incentives and employment subsidy.

Speaking on the Ecosystem for Food Management and Wastage Reduction to Boost Farm Income in Punjab, Mr Manjit Singh Brar, Managing Director, Punjab Agro Industries Corporation Limited, said, that marketing is the real solution for food management, whereas storage is just a temporary solution. Farmers connect with consumers is the need of the hour. We have a web-based solution which facilitates buyer-seller interface for farmers from the state. We are working on this project and is looking forward to launch it as a pilot in Mohali, District.

Mr Rajnikant Rai, Chief Executive - Agri Business Divsion, ITC Limited, said, “Delhi NCR region alone is using 15% of India’s vegetable and fruit consumption. ITC is the producer of high-quality potato seed in Punjab. It is targeting to diversify and cater other crops as well. He believes that a holistic approach in cost structure, government policies, farmer practices, value addition, linking farmer to production, option to try something new, investment in Food Park and Cluster based approach is highly required for diversification.”

Mr Anand Vijay Jha, Chief Public Policy Officer, Walmart India, said that Walmart has adopted an integrated approach by its Indian indigenous firms such as Flipkart and Ninjakart and trying to reduce farm waste. As customer preferences are changing, with the help of other marketplaces it is now possible to cater to needs of the customer very easily.

Mr Siraj A Chaudhry, Managing Director & CEO, National Collateral Management Services Limited, said, “The cost of doing business is very high in Punjab with taxes and commissions. The new Bill will help reduce that cost and produce more competitiveness. National Collateral Management Services Limited is deeply engrossed in reducing the cost of supply chain, to help improve value chain. Also, the farmers interest is most important for the government and industry to ensure a better future.

Mr Priuz Khambatta, Chairman, CII Task force on Ease of Doing Business & Chairman & Managing Director, Rasna Private Limited, said, “Our intention si to contribute in doubcling farmers’ income and with the current Farm bill it is possible. Health, pharmaceutical, nutrition is all becoming one. Emotional messaging is back, brands which are socially responsible are getting the limelight. There is an increased requirement for organic, chemical free products. Covid has taught us the use of B2B with retailers. By a research, 30% product are being purchased by #vocalforlocal.

Mr Akshay Bector, Past Chairman, CII Punjab State, and Chairman& Managing Director, Cremica Food Industries Ltd, said, “ Post-harvest infrastructure is not getting utilized efficiently by local farmers. For starters we need support mechanism for the crop. Need to invest in FPO and other associations who help in bringing down the cost of harvesting in Punjab. The effort to augment price support mechanism, harvesting technology and a 360-degree approach to help farming in Punjab is required.

Mr Bhavdeep Sardana, Vice Chairman, CII Punjab State, and Senior Vice President & CEO, Sukhjit Starch & Chemicals Limited, said, “Any plans on intensifying income knowledge dissemination on all levels is required. People have to get out of the vicious circle of their traditional ways of working. New crops which yield better remuneration are required.