President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said that a lack of value addition in the agriculture sector was hurting farmer interests. He also stated that food processing was the need of the hour and added that farmers need to be made aware of its benefits.
“It seems that the lack of value addition in the farm sector is the reason for the poor economic health of farmers in our country though state governments as well as the Centre have formulated a number of schemes to uplift their economic condition,” Pranab said while addressing the ‘International Conference on Sustainable Agriculture for Food and Livelihood Security’ at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in Ludhiana. The conference is part of the premier agricultural university’s golden jubilee celebrations.
The President further stated that the government was addressing the problem of food processing. “To address the problem of food processing, the government has planned 30 mega food parks. To compete in the world, however, much needs to be done to avoid the wastage of food grains,” Pranab said before adding that more research was required in this direction to ensure that farmers are self reliant and economically independent.
The President also sought a rethink on the agricultural sector to ensure food security and said a coherent and comprehensive policy, having synergy among various elements, should be put in place.
“We need to do a rethink on agriculture in India. We need to do this urgently to ensure food security in India. We must have in place a coherent and comprehensive policy that has synergy among its various elements,” Pranab said. On the other hand, addressing the conference, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal once again stressed on the need for diversification of crops and urged the Centre to provide proper price support so that farmers can shift from paddy to maize, oilseeds and vegetables, among others.
Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil, who is the PAU Chancellor, called for ways to use water in a judicious manner and also for gradual diversification of crops due to change in climatic conditions.
‘Illiteracy highest in India’
Later in the day, while presiding over a function at the Sat Paul Mittal School, run by Nehru Sidhant Kender, President Pranab Mukherjee admitted that illiteracy was the highest in India. He added that emphasis should be on government education programmes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan and the Right to Education