Bengaluru– Expressing concern over the agrarian distress affecting millions of farmers across the country, Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Friday called for a medium-term and long-term action plan to revitalize the farm sector.

“We need to formulate a medium-term and a long-term action plan for private and public investments with strategic directions to revitalize the farm sector,” said Naidu at the 47th Founder’s Day of the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC) here.

Asserting that enhanced investment, both private and public, in the agriculture sector was required, the Vice President said the central government and states needed to evolve policies to channelise greater private investments.

“There is a need to evolve policies for investments in farm inputs, irrigation, marketing, post-harvest management, risk management and land development,” Naidu reiterated.

Farmers in the country find agriculture as an unattractive profession due to low and stagnated income and productivity, he commented.

“The share of agriculture in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been falling over the years. The economy has always performed well during high agriculture growth,” said Naidu.

The agrarian distress in the country is characterised by fragmented holdings, dependence on monsoons and markets, resource degradation and depletion, the Vice President mentioned.

“Agricultural produce is often subjected to serious stresses related to untimely monsoons, calamities like floods and hailstorms.”

Initiatives like Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016 to provide crop insurance and financial support to the farmers in case of crop failure, were required to address the risks in livestock sector as well, he added.

India may have to consider substantive reforms in the land policies in order to achieve the economies of scale in agriculture, Naidu said.

“Promotion of contract farming, legislation on land leasing and encouragement of land sharing among both farmers and landowners, keeping the interest of farmers maybe some of the policy options,” he suggested.

Farmers also need to realise the larger share of consumer price, Naidu said.

“While minimum support price (MSP) and other interventions need to be continued, the alternatives to physical procurement like price deficiency payment could be piloted for some commodities,” the Vice President stated.

He also pointed to a need to have a better understanding of water use for the crops.

“The future growth in agriculture will be knowledge and technology driven facilitated by protection and management of groundwater and surface water,” Naidu said.

Policy on the usage of fertilisers needs to be revisited to include a balanced use of inorganic and organic fertilisers as per soil health status, he noted.

“Good quality of seeds can enhance the productivity by 15 to 20 per cent. Adequate seeds of good variety need to be produced,” added Naidu.

Farmers should also develop climate resilient farming practices, he said. (IANS)

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