Thursday, April 19, 2018


“Proper incentive structure needed for private participation in agri”
Monday, 12 June, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]

Brunel University London is a dynamic institution with 12,950 students and 2,552 academic and related staff operating in a vibrant culture of research excellence. The university has stood by the words of its Royal Charter – to pursue “research and enterprise for the benefit of individual and society” – since its birth in 1966.

In 2014-15, the university generated a total income of £200.7 million from teaching and research funding. Brunel was ranked first in London, fourth in the United Kingdom and 29th in the world in the 2014 world ranking of the top 100 universities founded in the last 50 years by Times Higher Education.

Brunel comprises of three major colleges and as many research institutes, conducting ground-breaking research, ranging from social sciences and health and social care to mechanical and material engineering and information systems, computing and mathematics.

Major research initiatives are coordinated through interdisciplinary collaborative research networks in the fields of ageing, complex systems, creative industries, innovative manufacturing, energy and environmental sustainability.

In an email interaction with Anurag More, Manoj Dora, lecturer, operations and supply chain management, Brunel Business School (who has several years of experience in teaching, research and consultancy in the area of applied economics and operations management), spoke about the agriculture and food processing industry in India.

Recently Indian prime minister Narendra Modi launched a new scheme called Sampada for the food processing industry.How will it benefit the industry?
Sampada, a scheme worth Rs 6,000 crore, aims to reduce food wastage and doubling farmers’ income in India. Post-harvest losses in India are estimated to be worth around Rs 92,000 crore annually, primarily because of the lack of storage and value addition possibilities. By investing in food parks and cold chain, Sampada would help reduce this wastage. Further, this would also help in creating about 3.5 lakh jobs and benefit 15 lakh farmers in the country. Additionally, this programme will help create infrastructure for the linkage of the entire food supply chain.

The government is targeting doubling the incomes of farmers by 2020. Do you think it is possible?
To put it in perspective, doubling farmers’ income by 2020 means the current Rs 5,000 will increase to Rs 10,000in five years’ time [according to data provided by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data].  This is quite an ambitious target. In order to achieve it, the government must put in extraordinary effort to restructure the agriculture sector and have strong policy interventions in place. The fundamental question we need to ask arehow to improve productivity through technological and managerial advancement;what are the right kind of interventions for energy, water and agricultural inputs, how do we integrate the food supply chain and farming system, and finally,how to establish a better market and pricing strategy.

What are the transformations taking place in the Indian agriculture sector over the years?
Research shows that three fundamental transformations have taken place in Indian agriculture over the years:

Firstly, there have been changes in the technology. The technological innovations in terms of new seed varieties, new equipment, and slowly moving towards smart data-driven agriculture. Secondly, there have been land-use changes, such as the intensification of cultivated area, the use of irrigated bottomland areas, use of mechanical pumps, new cropping and rotation patterns and expansion of fertiliser use. Thirdly, there have been changes in labour use and availability.

What steps should be taken to yield more agricultural produce?
There are three important steps that can be taken to improve our agriculture sector: firstly,investment in the value chain should be increased through smart infrastructure and services to reduce waste and add value along the chain; secondly, it is imperative that an ecosystem be created to facilitate access to credit, technology and markets for the supply chain members, especially the small holders, and thirdly, given our adverse weather and environmental conditions, there is a need to build resilience in the food supply chain at each stakeholder’s level, primarily focusing on the farmers.

Tell us something about Rainbow Revolution.
Rainbow Revolution aims at making the availability and consumption of vegetables and fruits. For instance, green, yellow, orange and red vegetables and fruits need to made part of the daily diet.At the policy level, rainbow revolution is an integral development programme of agriculture, horticulture, forestry, sugarcane, fishery, poultry and animal husbandry. This will have a significant impact on the nutritional requirements of young children.

What is the role of agri export zones(AEZs) in the growth of the food processing industry?
India is the leading producer of fruits, vegetables, milk, marine products, etc. Due to inadequate facilities for storage, transportation and processing, the post-harvest losses amount to 25-30 percent, causing a monetary loss of approximately Rs 92,000 crore annually. Agri export zones (AEZs) can play a significant role in reducing this wastage and losses and increase value addition through agricultural diversification, better infrastructure, storageand exports.

What steps should be taken to increase private participation in the agriculture sector?
Firstly, to increase private participation in the agriculture sector, there is a need to align the partners’ interests and financial viability. Without a proper incentive structure in place, it is not possible to attract private participation.

Secondly, the business climate must be informed with clearly defined, and uniformly administered rules and regulations will be a prerequisite for the enhanced private investment.

Thirdly, more emphasis should be laid on the development of rural infrastructure as the foundation upon which business climates can be improved with fully functioning markets.

What strategies should be made to improve and develop the agro-processing sector?
The main objectives of the Indian agro-processing sector should be tominimise food losses and wastage, add maximum value, achieve quality standards, reduce processing cost and ensure fair trade.

These are vital areas and need significant emphasis on research and development. We should develop a short-, medium- and long-term strategy to improve the capacity of the research organisations and universities to focus on these issues. Further we need to invest in better infrastructure to connect supply chain members.

What kind of research and development goes in the Indian agriculture sector?
One of the major barriers to boosting farm productivity is the lack of new technologies and major breakthroughs. Our research should focus on new agriculture technology especially tailored to the Indian environment. Often, we rely on technology from the western world, which is not suitable to our conditions.

What steps should be taken to reduce post-harvest losses?
I will not repeat the same old steps and mechanism suggested in many studies and reports. We need to see post-harvest food loss in a more holistic way. It is a multi-dimensional problem with several interconnected disciplines and multiple stakeholders involved. We can’t simply solve this problem through technological solutions or through management tools alone. Similarly, policy and regulation towards this challenge also has a significant role. Additionally, how the consumers and their preferences play a role in post-harvest food loss needs to be addressed.

We need a shift in thinking. For instance, how we can use circular economy principles to reduce and minimise food loss in the chain through reusing, redistributing and recycling.

How do you see the road ahead for the agriculture sector in India?
We can’t afford to ignore a sector which contributes about 15 per cent to gross domestic product of our country, accounts for 10 per cent of its total exports and provides livelihood to more than half of the population. We have a huge potential in the agriculture sector and could feed people here as well as people around the world. I see a big leap in the Indian agriculture sector because of significant government emphasis on this sector and investment in rural and agricultural infrastructure.

Further,digital and data-driven farming is going to help India in a big way.
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