The Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu called upon the scientific community to lay emphasis on enhancing the productivity of small and marginal farmers. “The small and marginal farmers are the most vulnerable and their welfare must be accorded the highest priority,” he added.
Addressing the 58th Convocation of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, he lauded the Institute’s achievements as truly remarkable in post-green revolution phase, considering the quantum jump in the country’s foodgrain production from 50.82 million tonnes in 1950-51 to 283.37 million tonnes in 2018-19.
The Vice President asked institutions like IARI to utilize technological advancements to improve the life of farmers and ensure that their research reaches the farm. He wanted them to serve the nation through scientific advancements and innovations in agriculture.
Expressing concern over the alarming prevalence of malnutrition and hidden hunger, he pointed out that more than 80% of adolescents in India suffer from hidden hunger. “This problem has to be addressed on a war footing as youth are the backbone of the nation,” he added.
Observing that malnutrition was a serious health issue as it increased susceptibility to various diseases, the Vice President referred to the growing problem of Non-Communicable diseases and advised the youth to shun sedentary lifestyle and junk food.
Shri Naidu urged institutions such as IARI to develop high yielding, disease-resistant and nutrient-rich varieties of crops. He also wanted them to educate people on the dangers of excessive use of pesticides as it was leading to increasing instances of diseases like cancers.
“A country like India cannot depend on imported food security. We need homegrown, protein-rich food to meet the needs of the burgeoning population,” he added.
The Vice President lauded the institution for developing several bio-fortified maize hybrids rich in lysine, tryptophan and pro-vitamin A and pearl millet, lentil varieties rich in iron and zinc and said that it was indeed a step in the right direction for making India nutritionally secure.
“Combination of appropriate policies, technologies, and institutional arrangements are vital to transform agriculture and make it sustainable and profitable,” he added.
Stating that all efforts must be made to double the income of the farmers in the next few years, the Vice President called for the concerted efforts to improve agricultural productivity. He also stressed the need for diversifying traditional cropping systems as it would reduce economic risk while increasing the scope for higher profitability.
“Diversifying traditional cropping systems and taking allied activities would provide resilience to farmers to withstand the vagaries of nature,” he added.
Talking about the impact of climate change, Shri Naidu observed that the rise in temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns were adversely affecting agriculture. He stressed the urgent need to develop technology for climate-resilient agriculture and enhance the adaptive capacity of farmers.
Appreciating the central government for the historic step last year to honour 12 farmers with Padmashri awards for their path-breaking innovations in agriculture, Shri Naidu said that such recognitions will boost their morale.
Shri Naidu complimented IARI for several high yielding mustard varieties, which would help in cutting down the edible oil import bill.
On the occasion, the Vice President presented degrees and medals to students who completed M.Sc and Ph.D. A total of 243 students were awarded the degrees in 58th Convocation of IARI.
The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Kailash Choudhary, Secretary, DARE, Dr T. Mohapatra, and the Director of Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Dr Ashok Kumar Singh were present at the event.