Despite the steady growth of India’s farm sector in the past five years, the country has not been able to utilise fully the many scientific achievements in the agriculture sector, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday.
“It represents failure of the system,” Singh said while speaking at the Golden Jubilee Convocation of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI).
“There is a gap between the yield per hectare that is observed in the field and the yields that can be achieved under the ideal farm practices. That difference is quite substantial at present and it represents the failure of the system to exploit the yield potential which our scientists have given us,” he said, adding that the administrative machinery and policy-makers in the agriculture sector should address the problem.
He said it is the job of the administration to close this gap and the country’s agricultural strategy must give high priority towards this effort. The country’s farm sector has witnessed a growth of around 3.5 per cent per year in the past five years.
Singh said various policy initiatives to improve terms of trade in favour of the farm sector have paid off as the country’s foodgrain production is set to exceed 250 million tonnes, an all-time record this year.
“In the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17), the goal must be to scale up the growth in the sector to 4 per cent or more,” he said, adding that this would require a determined effort by the Centre and states.
“It is estimated that the country would need an additional 50 million tonnes of foodgrains in the next 10 years to meet domestic demand,” he said.
With limited natural resources and rising food demand, it is vital to make progress in farm technology to raise land productivity with less use of water, Singh said.
To provide balanced diet with proper nutrition to each citizen, Singh said the country needs to produce more fruits and vegetables and protein-rich products such as milk, eggs, fish and meat.
“The demand for these products is expected to grow substantially with rising incomes and changing dietary habits and preferences. Therefore, we