"Farm technology alone cannot do wonders, we need to fix the market so that the farmers get remunerative returns for their produce. The agriculture of tomorrow will be governed by high-value produce such as fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish, etc," said Ashok Gulati, chairman, commission for agricultural costs and prices, ministry of agriculture, New Delhi.
He was delivering a thought-provoking seminar on "Accelerating agricultural growth- role of policy and technology" at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) on Wednesday.
The seminar was organised by Dr Gurdev Singh Khush Foundation for the advancement of agricultural sciences. The faculty and students of the PAU attended the seminar. Besides, Gurdev Singh Khush, world renowned rice breeder; Khem Singh Gill and MS Kang, former vice-chancellors of PAU; SS Johl, chancellor, Central University of Punjab, Bathinda; and Baldev Singh Dhillon, PAU vice-chancellor, were present on the occasion.
Gulati said that in 2007-08, global food prices erupted and India banned the export of wheat and rice. During the period of five years from 2006-07 to 2011-12, the food production increased by 42 million tonnes. As the production was going up and the export was banned, the surplus touched 80 million tonnes in 2011-12. Gulati further said that in September 2011, the Government of India opened up the export of wheat and rice. In 2012-13, India exported 22 million tonnes of cereals, he said, while disclosing that in 2013-14, "We are likely to export 18 million tonnes of wheat, rice and maize.
Gulati said at present, the agriculture growth rate is near 4% and in 2013-14, it is likely to be 4.6. "We need to bring changes in farming to accelerate growth and reduce rural poverty," he emphasised.
Gulati said that the country has witnessed cotton revolution in the past few years. At present, India is producing 36 million bales of cotton and exporting 10-13 million bales. India has become the second largest exporter of cotton, he highlighted.
Gulati said that a big revolution is waiting in a row, 'bio-fortification.' About 70% of women are deficient in iron, he revealed, while expressing concern over malnutrition. The need of the hour is to add and provide essential nutrients to the masses. He also stressed the need for nourishing mother earth and exactly knowing what minerals are required.
Earlier, the PAU V-C, Dhillon welcomed the guest speaker and highlighted the salient achievements of Gulati. He said that Gulati had served in both academic and policy advising capacities in India. His research focuses on the functioning and restructuring of agricultural markets; trade liberalisation and its impact on producers and consumers; pricing policies and their efficiency and welfare impact; and the role of infrastructure and institutions in making markets function efficiently.
DS Brar, adjunct professor, School of Agricultural Biotechnology, PAU, welcomed Khush and said that he was a highly decorated scientist.
Khush, an alumnus of PAU, has done extensive work on tomato and rice, and has made outstanding contributions to food security. He is a recipient of Japan Prize (1987), World Food Prize (1996) and several other international awards. Khush has donated Rs 3.5 crore to PAU. Kuldeep Singh, director, School of Agricultural Biotechnology, conducted the programme and proposed the vote of thanks.