INDIA - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), director general, Jose Graziano da Silva has met Indian agriculture minister, Radha Mohan Singh on September 8, 2014. During the meet, Singh apprised FAO of the significant strides made by India in agriculture and allied sectors during last few years.
India has not only achieved self-sufficiency in food but also did extremely well in horticulture, dairying, milk production, fisheries, post-harvest management and development of cold chain infrastructure, Singh said.
Today, India produces over 260 million tonnes of food grains, 269 million tonnes of agriculture produce and 132 million tonnes of milk, Singh adds.
Mentioning agriculture as main stay of the country, Mr Singh (pictured) said that it contributes to 13.7 per cent of the Indian gross domestic product (GDP) and a source of employment for 22 per cent of total population.
Singh said that a growth rate of 4 per cent has been envisaged for the agriculture sector and investments in agriculture and allied sector during 2012-13 have been of the order of INR 181.81 billion.
Explaining about Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), Singh said that this programme will facilitate holistic development of agriculture and allied sectors by incentivising the states to increase public investment; and building robust infrastructure and creating assets for filling identified gaps.
Singh also described other important initiatives, which include National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) which seeks to address climate change adaptation technologies in the areas of resource conservation, water use efficiency enhancement, soil health management, integrated farming system and mainstreaming rainfed technologies.
The minister told FAO DG about Kisan Call Centres, which aim to provide information to farming community through toll free telephone number on all seven days of week and a SMS Portal for Farmers functioning since July 2013 for disseminating information, giving topical & seasonal advisories and providing services through SMSs to farmers in the local languages.
Singh also mentioned the steps taken by the government to encourage mobilisation of farmers to form Farmer Producer Organisations (FPO).
Government has launched equity grant Credit Guarantee Fund Scheme for facilitating these FPOs to access equity grant to double member equity up to a maximum limit of $17,000.
On its part, Jose Graziano da Silva appreciated the vibrant cooperative movement being run in India and expressed the hope that the technological initiatives taken by India in rice production and other crops would help in a big way other countries including Brazil, Russia and South Africa etc. in overcoming difficulties in this sector.
Silva said that FAO would participate in National Food Security Mission of India and assured that challenges being faced by India in agriculture sector would be given due priority in the agenda of various committees of FAO.