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AGRICULTURE

Agri policymakers should focus on sustained quality and not just yield
Thursday, 21 December, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
Delivering the keynote address at India Farm 2 Fork 2017, the fifth international conference and exhibition, under the aegis of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi, Ashish Bahuguna, chairman, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), emphasised that the focus of policymakers in the field of agriculture and food production should shift from excessive productivity to sustained quality to enable India globalise her food and agricultural produce on a sustainable basis.

He felt that unnecessary obsession with productivity, particularly for agricultural and food produce, was no longer amenable, as continued focus on it would have an adverse environmental impact on agriculture, land and soil, among others.

“Therefore, the time has come for the focus of policymakers in the ministry of agriculture and the departments coordinating with it to shift to sustained quality of agricultural and food items to help India attain its global integration in the field of food and agriculture, and also to help it prevent its soil and land degradation,” stated Bahuguna.

“Accordingly, the food safety standards should also evolve to transform India’s food and agriculture with compliance with progressive food safety standards to promote all-round consumption,” he added.

Meena, secretary, ministry of food processing industries (MoFPI), was also present on the occasion. In his inaugural remarks, he felt that whereas the large enterprises in the agri and food processing sectors had been quite collaborating with linking themselves with farmers, the small and medium enterprise (SME) segment has, somehow, fallen behind to work directly with the farmers and lift their produce for optimum value addition.

“Therefore, the SME segment needs to make certain amendments in their approach and come forward with a pro-active approach to directly work with the farmers. It should be equipped with the latest technologies to enable them optimise their production commercially,” he added.

Meena also announced that the government would be coming out with two additional schemes to promote several mini-mega food parks across the country for uplift of the agri- and food sectors in which the subsidy element for setting up of agro-food clusters in such parks would vary from Rs 5 crore to Rs 10 crore. He urged the industry to take advantage of such schemes which would fall in the public domain from the next week onwards.

In his welcome remarks, Anil Khaitan, president, PHD Chamber, pointed out that the production of horticultural items in India have exceeded the grain production. This, in some sense, is good for the agrarian economy.

He, however, emphasised that globalisation and integration of the Indian agriculture sector with economies of scales was still a challenge.

The others who were present at the conference, at which a knowledge report was unveiled, comprised V K Mishra, chairperson, agri-business committee, PHD Chamber; M N Kejriwal, senior member, PHD Chamber, and Yogesh Srivastav, principal director.
 
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