Bhubaneswar, Jan 25:
Former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam on Saturday said cooperatives of small and marginal farmers is the key to raising agricultural production in the country.
“One of the major problems faced in agriculture is the division of agricultural land into small holdings, which gets fragmented further due to the prevailing social system. Under the circumstances, the sole method to increase production is by creating a farmers’ cooperative movement in the rural sector, which would bring together small-scale farmers, facilitating mechanised farming techniques, processing, value-addition and marketing of agro products,” said Kalam addressing at the 33rd Convocation of Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) here today.
Kalam said that such cooperatives could also establish networks with markets on behalf of the individual farmers. The farmers, who are thus empowered as entrepreneurs, will also be able to plan methods to diversity their operations, he said.
The missile man said that sustainable development constitutes not just economic factors, but also focuses on social development, environmental conservation, technological infusions and employment generation.
Stating that the Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA) scheme can make villages prosperous knowledge accumulation centres and villagers as entrepreneurs, he urged agriculture experts to find ways to prevent distress sale by farmers.
The former President underscored the need for an integrated mission mode approach from soil to marketing to achieve a target of 340 million tonnes of food grain output by 2020. By then, India’s arable land is projected to fall to about 100 million hectares from the present 170 million hectares. In addition, there will be shortage of water due to competing demands and reduction in the agricultural work force.
“Our agricultural scientists and technologists, in partnership with multiple organizations, have to work for enhancing the average productivity more than three times, under the constraints of reduction of cultivable land, reduction of farmers,” Kalam said.
Governor SC Jamir, who was present on the occasion as Chancellor of OUAT, said, “We need to do a re-think on agriculture sector and we need to do this urgently. As Odisha is a natural calamity prone state which has a huge impact on agriculture. To address, it we need to stress on capacity building of farming community on adaptive measures developed against drought and extreme weather conditions.”