Promote crop diversification, use of digital tools in agriculture: Minister urges G20 nations

Apr 17, 2023 11:01 PM IST

India would be the largest producer of millets in the world in near future, says minister of state for civil aviation VK Singh while inaugurating the G20 meeting of agricultural chief scientists (MACS)in Varanasi

VARANASI Union minister VK Singh on Monday said that India would be the largest producer of millets in the world in near future as the government is serious about promoting its output due to nutritional qualities of millets.

Union minister of state for civil aviation General (retd) VK Singh and others during three-day G20 Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists, in Varanasi on Monday. (ANI Photo)
Union minister of state for civil aviation General (retd) VK Singh and others during three-day G20 Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists, in Varanasi on Monday. (ANI Photo)

Inaugurating the G20 meeting of agricultural chief scientists (MACS) in Varanasi, he asked G20 countries to work towards promotion of crop diversification, efficient use of inputs like fertilisers and post-harvest management, and said the latest digital tools should be used in agriculture across the world.

About 80 delegates from G20 member states -- Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the USA and European Union -- are participating in the tree-day meeting.

“We should utilise the emerging digital technologies to usher in ease of farming across the G20 countries and the world. India would be happy to share its expertise in this regard with other countries, especially developing and least developed countries,” said the minister of state for civil aviation, road transport and highways.

The minister said India’s G20 Presidency theme ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ signifies collective efforts for achieving SDGs (sustainable development goals). The theme of MACS, “sustainable agriculture and food system for healthy people and plant” resonates the emphasis put forth in the theme.

He stated that the UN General Assembly, based on India’s proposal, has declared 2023 as the International Year of the Millets, which will help highlight the benefits of millets to the world. He said India has made it a people’s movement and appealed to all the G20 countries to support the move.

The minister said bio-fortified crop varieties are the quicker solution to improve health and address nutrition issues of women and children. Over 5 million hectare area in India is under bio-fortified varieties of different crops, he added.

“It is my pleasure to be with you in the ancient and holy city of Varanasi for this important meeting of top scientists of developed and developing countries and international organizations. This is an attractive opportunity to take stock of our progress on critical issues of food security and nutrition, climate change adaptation solutions, digital agriculture, public-private investment in agriculture. G20, as a group, shares about 85% of the GDP of the world and hence has greater responsibility towards the wellbeing of global humanity,” said Singh.

“As two-thirds of the world population lives in G-20 nations and 60% of all agricultural land and 80% of world trade in agricultural production is accounted for by these countries, our onus on food security and nutrition, livelihood support to the people is crucial. We must utilize our collective strengths for responsible and responsive R&D in agriculture and promoting cooperation for faster transition towards sustainable agriculture and food systems,” he added.

“In India, as the food supply improved, we moved towards the goals of sustainability, efficiency, equity, affordable and healthy safe food as also farmers income and competitiveness in food value chain. Our efforts to deal with global food price shock of 2007-2011 and during COVID -19 pandemic offers useful lessons. We have put the world’s largest rural employment programme under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act since 2005. The scheme provides constitutional right to every rural household to get work for 100 days in a year on voluntary basis. We have the world’s largest food-based safety net programs, reaching out to about 800 million people in 2020, including ~ 120 million school children through the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) scheme,” he mentioned.

“The political will and policy support in agricultural research gave us results through different research-based revolutions viz. Green, White, Yellow, Blue, Golden, Silver and evergreen revolutions. We were able to increase our agricultural production from 135 MT in 1950s to over 1300 MT in 2022. This sector engages around 47% of the workforce and contributes for about 17% to India’s GDP,” said the minister.

“India recognizes and appreciates the renewed efforts made by G-20 and other nations/organisations for the digitalisation of agriculture. India has one of the largest digital connects in the form of over 1.2 billion mobile connections and 1.20 billion+ unique ID-AADHAR holders. We have provided 120 million soil health cards to farmers,” said VK Singh.

“As the demand for food is set to increase significantly in the decades to come with the rise in population, countries should harness each other’s strengths and improve trade relations. They should not just open new business opportunities for sustainable agriculture, but also stabilise food availability across regions and help small farmers as part of the agricultural value chain,” he said.

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