The Indian agriculture has made an impressive growth since independence and revolution since 60’s. During this period, the wheat production increased over 12 times, rice over 4 times; oil seeds over 3 times and pulses nearly 2 times. This happened in spite of shift of area and silent diversification towards horticulture including vegetables.

Production of these crops is now stagnating with decline in total factor productivity. Eastern states especially UP will have to make a significant contribution in future agriculture growth and development if country is to achieve the most proclaimed and so  called “evergreen revolution”. The government will have to revisit its plan and strategies and take the following specific and urgent measures for promoting growth in the state.

  • Broadening the production area of wheat and rice in eastern UP and increasing rice production in traditional areas by adopting hybrid rice.
  • Increasing production of pulses to meet the dietary habits of our people.
  • Arriving at input needs and economic returns for fruits and vegetables appropriate for each region and emphasizing the need for cold storage and long distance transportation facilities.
  • Linking production, processing, and marketing of agriculture products specially fruits and vegetables by encouraging private sectors partnerships.
  • Improving water use efficiency through sprinkler and drip irrigation, treating water as national resource and conserving it through water harvesting, recharging ground water aquifers, and modern method of irrigation for horticulture crops.
  • Increasing use of integration plant nutrients and pest and disease management under different farming situations adapted by millions of small and marginal farmers.
  • Training and multiplying entrepreneurs, through proper credit support on a business model already available in rural settings, who could proudly call them as job creators and not job seekers. Nothing is more important than gainfully employing the rural youth in their own settings and agriculture is the answer.

The state also needs to emphasize on creation of synergy and conversions of various programmes for horticultural development to achieve horticultural growth through vertical integration. To keep the overall agricultural growth rate of 4%, the growth rate in horticulture has to be between 6-8%, which is considered achievable. The state of UP will again have to play a major role in this entire process. The important thrust area could be, area expansion, improving productivity and production and reducing cost of production, improving quality of products and value addition, promoting market and network and exports through organized credit and organizational support, including cold chains and storages, and more importantly human resource development at the field level.

The major challenge today is to attain a growth rate in excess of 4% which is based on efficient use of resources and conservation of soil, water and biodiversity; growth with equity i.e. growth that is wide spread across regions and different categories of farmers; growth that is demand driven and that caters to domestic market and maximizes benefits from export of agricultural products; and growth that is sustainable technologically, environmentally and economically. We are capable of doing it as we have done in the past and shown to the rest of the world our unparallel achievements in agriculture in the past. All we need is to set the priorities and have determination to do it.

Prof. Panjab Singh

(The writer is the President of FAARD Foundation)

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