Despite challenges of climate change and adversarial environmental conditions, India will be able to achieve 291 million tonne of food grain target for 2019-20. This was predicted by Dr S K Malhotra, agriculture commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare at an event on Strengthening Smart Food Chain for Sustainable Production and Exports under aegis of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) in New Delhi on Friday.
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He emphasised that the focus of the government was to enhance the food grain production and produce of multiple agricultural commodities, including pulses and coarse grains, with stress on quality and nutrition.
“The government would succeed in this direction protecting the farming communities and other associates involved in the value chain with best of available technologies and inputs so that farming moves on the intended direction,” Dr Malhotra said.
He also made a forecast saying that the government would make necessary investments in promoting and encouraging grains, such as millets, because of their nutrition value and initiate efforts to brand the produce both nationally and internationally.
“The government has also been able to convince FAO to declare the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets, which has since been re-branded as nutri-cereals,” Dr Malhotra said.
Elaborating on the target of 291 million tonne of food grain production by the end of 2019-20, Dr Malhotra pointed out that the government would achieve the target positively, as its focus is towards it, even though the challenges of climate change and environmental related problems, including aggressive attacks from emerging pests, exist with the necessary available technological solutions.
Sanjeev Kumar Chadha, managing director, National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED), who was also present on the occasion, however, stated that his organisation had begun to procure a lot of commodities directly from farmers, particularly onions, which ensured better and higher margins for the farming community.
“NAFED is also exploring possibilities to collaborate with the private sector to utilise their capacities for storage of agricultural commodities, so that supplies do not suffer on account of scarcity of agricultural produce,” he added.
Ashok Thakur, government nominee director with NAFED, in his remarks, assured all government support to all stakeholders for the betterment of the agriculture sector, so that the current farming distress is tackled effectively.
Pawanexh Kohli, chief advisor and chief executive officer, NCCD (National Centre for Cold-Chain Development), in his keynote address, stated that doubling of the farmers’ income was an important milestone in the history of the agriculture sector, and all related institutions were engaged in this direction so that proactive policies were implemented and desired and the intended objectives were achieved.
It was also stressed on the occasion that aggregation of agri produce through FPOs (farmer-producer organisations) and decentralisation of storage with private participation is critical for doubling the farmers’ incomes, which is achievable in due course of time.
Among others who were also present on the occasion were Dr R S Khanna, co-chairman, Agri Business Committee, PHDCCI, Dr R S Khanna; R G Aggarwal, chairman, Dhanuka Agritech Limited; Vikas Jain, director, PMV Maltings Pvt Ltd, and Mallika Verma, director, PHDCCI.