DARE secretary worried about reducing farm land
@ Mar 19, 2012
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TNN Mar 17, 2012, 11.06 PM IST

VARANASI: S Ayyappan, secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE) and director general, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), expressed hope of better productivity of food grains in the country. He, however, was worried about the shrinking farming land and reducing number of farmers.

Ayyappan was in the city on Saturday to receive the D Litt degree at the convocation of Banaras Hindu University (BHU). Talking to media persons at the Indian Institute of Vegetable Research (IIVR), he said despite shrinking of cultivated area, the productivity of food grains was enhanced due to extensive research and development in agricultural sector. Agriculture in India is the key sector for generating employment opportunities for majority of the population. According to him, presently agriculture sector provides employment to about 52% of the workforce of the country. "Currently the agriculture contribution in the gross domestic product (GDP) was 14.8%," he said.

However, according to the report of ICAR, the agriculture contribution in GDP is declining in India, which in 2008-09 went down to 15.7% from about 30% in 1990-91. During the past two decades, the average annual growth of agriculture sector was less than half (around 3%) of the overall average growth of the economy (6 - 7%). Industrial and service sectors have outpaced performance of agriculture sector during the past two decades. But the proportion of workforce engaged in agriculture did not commensurate with the decline of its share in the gross domestic product. At present also, agriculture sector provides employment to about 52% of the workforce that used to be about 61% in 1990-91. These starkly different trends reveal that incomes in non-agriculture sector are growing faster than agriculture sector. And a sizable workforce from agriculture shifted to non-agriculture sector for income and livelihood opportunities. Hence, in the country the research and development focus needs to be reoriented in a way to develop and promote those technologies that raise agricultural income and ensure employment opportunities in the agri-supply chain to a vast majority of the workforce.

"We are working on mission like, 'Farmer FIRST' to improve the situation by encouraging farmers," he said adding that it was an initiative to provide an opportunity of direct interaction between farmers and agricultural scientists for the growth of agriculture. Replying a query regarding budgetary allocation to agricultural sector, he said that it was satisfactory. To another query regarding the adverse impact of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Guarantee Scheme on agriculture, he said that the situation was being assessed.

Meanwhile, the IIVR organised an exhibition of vegetables on its premises in Adalpura area. Farmers from different places took part in the exhibition where institutions affiliated to ICAR created their stalls. IIVR director PS Naik welcomed the guests and participating farmers.


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