"As the task force of experts and scientists will dwell on the various aspects of the draft national fertilizer policy, industry stakeholders should provide inputs in formulating it," he said at the fourth national conference on agrochemicals, organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) here.

Inaugurating the two-day conference on "Agrochemicals for ensuring food and nutrition security of the nation", he told the participants that his ministry would attempt to pass the Pesticides Management Bill 2008 in parliament's winter session to accelerate growth in the sector.

Exhorting the industry to use more bio-fertilizers, the minister said there was a need to encourage farmers for using green fertilizers to maintain the soil health and boost crop production."We need to ascertain whether pesticides are complementary or detrimental to Mother Nature, as it was also essential to preserve the soil health. Though the green revolution had doubled crop production in the 1960s and 1970s, increasing use of pesticides had a detrimental effect on the soil," he noted.

Noting that pesticides banned in other countries were being used in the country depleting the soil quality, Ananth Kumar urged the industry to develop green pesticide and green technology through research.

In his special address, joint secretary in the ministry A.J.V. Prasad highlighted the importance of agrochemicals for crop protection from pests, weeds and diseases.

Ananth Kumar also released a report on the conference theme prepared by the chambers with Tata strategic management group, which highlights the need for agrochemicals to overcome challenges faced by the farm sector in ensuring food and nutrition security.

The report flags imperatives for the industry, government and regulatory bodies to promote the growth of agrochemicals.

"Though agrochemicals play a crucial role in ensuring food and nutrition security of the nation, pesticide consumption is lowAat 600gm per hectare compared to global average of 3kg/ha. As a result, the per hectare yield at 3 tonnes/ha in India is amongst the lowest in the world," Tata strategic management group head Manish Panchal said.

According to the report, the Indian crop protection market was $4.25 billion in last fiscal (2013-14), with exports constituting 50 percent. The market size is projected to touch $7.5 billion over the next five years, with an average growth of 12-13 percent.

"Growing population, increasing urbanisation, reduction in arable land and consumption shift towards animal products highlight the importance of agrochemicals," the report added.

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