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Vice President calls for increased investments in agriculture

Stresses the need for timely and affordable credit to farmers Interacts with Scientists, Faculty Members and Research Fellows at MANAGE

The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has suggested to the Central and various State Governments to increase investments in agriculture and allied sectors to make farming viable and attractive. He was interacting with Scientists, Faculty Members and Research Fellows at the National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE), in Hyderabad today. The Deputy Chief Minister of Telangana, Shri Mohammad Mahmood Ali and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

The Vice President said that there is a need to make agriculture sustainable, viable and attractive by creating required infrastructure, providing timely credit and value addition to farm produce. The central government’s e-NAM project is the way forward for proper marketing, he added.

The Vice President said that providing information to farmers on the demand for their produce in advance was essential to prevent distress sale. He further said that providing affordable and reasonable credit to farmers is also equally important. Loan waiver was not a permanent solution as it would not help in creating long-term sustainable activity, he added.

The Vice President advised the extension officials to create greater awareness among the farming community on the crop insurance scheme. He also said that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) should be leveraged more effectively for the benefit of farmers. He also added that information should be disseminated to the farmers in the local languages.

The Vice President also wanted institutions like MANAGE to educate the farmers on the need to diversify crops to overcome challenges of climate change and sustain their incomes. Stressing the importance of spending time in the fields by the extension officials and researchers, he said it should be made mandatory for agricultural graduates and post graduates to spend time with farmers before completion of their courses.

Pointing to the increasing challenges posed by climate change, the Vice President advised MANAGE to promote climate-smart agriculture. He stressed the need for home-grown food security to create surplus food stocks and meet the requirements of burgeoning population. He also emphasized on the importance of better coordination between various institutions related to agriculture.

The Vice President urged people to live with nature and promote culture for a better future. Earlier the Vice President visited the Knowledge Incubation Center, Urban Greening stalls, Photo Exhibition, interacted with Agriprenuers and the trainees of Input Dealers Course, released a “Handbook on Important Insect Pests and Diseases of Major Crops in India” and also launched Youtube channel of MANAGE.

Following is the text of Vice President’s address:

“I am extremely happy to participate in today’s interaction with all of you and learn a little more about the excellent work being done by your institution MANAGE.

It is a matter of great satisfaction to me that this institute is developing the capacity of middle level and senior level extension officers of agriculture and allied departments to act as extension managers and deliver the scientific messages effectively to farmers so that they can increase production and productivity to make their living better from the farm sector.

I am glad to note that MANAGE as an apex institute in the country has a number of accomplishments. It has fulfilled its role as a technical arm to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare for policy interventions and reforms.

I have noted that the institute in its early days focused on the concepts like Management in Agricultural Extension System, Farming Systems Approach, Farming Situation Based Extension, Farmer to Farmer Extension and Gender mainstreaming, among others.

I am happy to know that Institute drafted the guidelines for National Watershed Development program for the Ministry of Rural Development, which brought name and fame to the institute. It has pioneered in starting Post Graduate Diploma in Management (Agri Business Management) which received an excellent response from leading Indian and multinational Agribusiness companies in placement.

I am told that this institute also played a key role along with ICAR in the Innovations in Technology Dissemination component of the National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP). As an implementing agency, it is responsible for providing an extension model “ATMA”– Agricultural Technology Management Management — for an integrated extension delivery system at the district level which at later stage scaled up to all the 630 districts in the country under the Extension Reforms Scheme.

I am happy that the institute has implemented Agri-Clinics and Agri- Business Centers Scheme of Government of India to provide extension services to the farmers through technically trained agricultural graduates at the village level.

If you glance through the extension services in the country– right from Community Development programme which was started on October 2nd, 1952, Intensive Agriculture Development Program, Command Area Development Program, Intensive Area Development Program and then the Green Revolution—all of them focused on food security and played a major role in the country attaining self-sufficiency in food grain production (1975). Then, the government introduced the World Bank assisted Training & Visit (T&V) System which focussed on Management Concept in Agricultural Extension System.

I have always held that agriculture sector needs a great deal of attention because a majority of Indians still rely on agriculture and allied occupations in the rural areas for their livelihood. We have a situation today where despite phenomenal increase in food production (270 million Tonnes), farmers are not able to get adequate returns from their investment. Agriculture remains an unattractive vocation to many families. We must change this situation.

Agrarian distress is mainly due to high costs of inputs, small and tenant farmers, production loss, instability in yields, low prices, climate change, droughts, rainfed cultivation, poor irrigation and debts. I appreciate that MANAGE has done a study on agrarian distress and established that integrating livestock with farming prevents farmers’ suicides.

For agriculture to become sustainable, remunerative and profitable, I feel that extension should focus on the following:

Climate change: Climate change is posing increasing challenge to Indian agriculture. It has been estimated that extreme weather events are costing India 1.5 per cent of its GDP annually and is projected to impact agricultural productivity with increasing severity from 2020 to the end of the century. Agricultural extension can play a crucial role in increasing awareness by training knowledge intermediaries at grassroots level. Working with farmers to increase awareness on climate change is crucial to bring about changes in age old practices in order to promote climate-smart agriculture. I am sure MANAGE will play a key role in training knowledge intermediaries on “Extension for Climate Smart Agriculture” and make required technologies accessible.
Nutritional Security: Since the Green Revolution, agriculture has mostly moved to mono-cropping, which has severely impacted the existence of agro-diversity in the villages. Food habits have also been impacted as a result. Nutrition security is important at grassroots level to increase development index and agricultural extension can effectively integrate nutrition related information to provide wholesome knowledge and develop a knowledge-intensive rural society. MANAGE again can play an important role by conducting research on nutrition security, transferring the evidence based knowledge for policy advocacy and train extension professionals to address nutrition related issues.
Agri-Startup Ecosystem: Investment in technology is a necessity for agricultural development. Technology start-ups in agriculture have a lot to provide to Indian agriculture in terms of innovation, employment, and income.
I am told that MANAGE, with its Knowledge Incubation Centre, has already started investing in agricultural startups that provide a wide range of unique services to the population engaged in agricultural activities – both urban and rural. It will not only benefit the farmers but also build up a startup ecosystem and develop entrepreneurial culture in rural societies.
Urban Agriculture: With increasing pressure of urban population, pollution, and food security, urban agriculture can be a boon to agricultural development and economically backward communities in urban areas. I am told that MANAGE has already identified few low cost good practices in urban farming. Identifying more across the country and promoting them through extension machinery can change the urban landscape of agriculture.
Public and Private Extension Services: With increasing stakeholders in agriculture, public extension system needs to play an expanded role too as regulator, negotiator, facilitator, and more. But along with the increased role, public extension system also should integrate issues like environmental awareness, health and nutrition, general awareness of e Governance, among others, to build up sustainable agricultural communities. MANAGE, with its apex role in agriculture, especially capacity development, can lead the change through its programmes and activities.
Strengthening Extension Service Institutions: Major extension service institutes in the country are Extension Education Institutes (EEIs), State Agricultural Management and Extension Training Institutes (SAMETIs), Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), and State departments. But there is very little connect between these extension service institutions and national NGOs, private corporates in agriculture, and other stakeholder. I am told that MANAGE, through its different programmes has been acting as a facilitator in bridging the gaps but further initiatives are required as well to increase the interactions and convergence between various stakeholders for shared experience and better initiatives.
Market led extension: The ultimate aim for agricultural development is to give better income to the farmers and market forms the most important component for making production remunerative. Proper regulation of markets across the country, dedicated marketing cells in every departments in agricultural sector, monitoring of price fluctuations, and ensuring minimum support prices to farmers are of imminent need. Initiatives like Electronic National Agriculture Market (eNAM) are important steps in the right directions to help the farmers make informed choices.
New Models of Extension: Around the world, many interesting extension models like 4H Clubs in US, AMUL in India have created major changes in agricultural sector. But the most important element of those models has been their congruency with local needs. Replications in different context can have rather undesirable outcomes. Also, with location specificity and local needs, local level implementations also count as has been the experience of ATMA model in India. For example, the biodiversity and natural resources along with its demographics makes North East India a hot bed of opportunities. But because of those specific factors, the models that work well in rest of India might not be very effective there. Hence, extension models, to be successful, need to be locally relevant and address local needs rather than blindly imitating successful models from elsewhere. Proper policy support based on research evidence may help bring out those models successfully.
In order to address these key areas, I think that the most critical need is to establish a dialogue with farmers and provide them with knowledge and material resources to increase their incomes.

I would urge each of you to think further on possible solutions to the challenges in agriculture sector and come up with solutions that will impact the farmers lives positively and increase their incomes.

I wish you all the best in your endeavours.

Jai Kisan! Jai Hind!”

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