Loan waiver, free power no lasting solution: Naidu

Pune: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu said populist measures such as loan waivers and free power would not provide lasting solution to the distressed farmers in the country and sought timely credit at affordable interest rates besides giving latest know-how to them to improve farm productivity.

Inaugurating a two-day National Consultation on Making Agriculture Sustainable and Profitable in here, he said concerted, coordinated and focused action was required to double the farmers income in the coming years, according to an official statement.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, former Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and renowned agricultural acientist Prof. M.S. Swaminathan were present at the event.

Calling for making agriculture viable, profitable and sustainable to improve the lot of farmers and ensure home-grown food security, he stressed on the need to identify gaps in policy formulation to evolve a multipronged strategy to make agriculture viable, profitable and sustainable was the main purpose of this consultation, the statement said.

“Our policies should be more pro farmer and there should be a pronounced bias towards agriculture,” he said, emphasising that the 4 Is – Irrigation, Infrastructure, Investment and Insurance sectors – needed to be strengthened for an integrated development of farm sector.

“It is important to make agriculture sustainable through a judicious use of scarce resources like water, electricity and by avoiding indiscriminate use of fertilizers and pesticides,” he said.

Observing that populist programs like loan waivers and free power would not provide lasting solutions, the Vice President said that farmers must be provided timely credit at affordable interest rates.

“Farmers have to be given the latest know-how and trained in the do-how to improve farm productivity,” he added.

Naidu said that along with increased production, there was need to have efficient distribution of food grains.

“Only then can we move our country forward to achieve the goal of zero hunger and adequate nutrition for all,” he said.

Expressing his concern over the restrictions on export of agriculture produce, Naidu advocated to strike a balance between the interests of farmers and consumers.

Referring to the need to promote diversification of crops, he said that farmers should be encouraged to cultivate high value crops like fruits, vegetables, condiments, pulses, spices and sugarcane.

Naidu also said that it is important to encourage farmers to take up allied activities like poultry, dairy, fisheries and aquacultures to not only enhance farmers income but also to provide a cushion against the adverse impact of failed crops.

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for doubling farmer’s income by 2022, the Vice President said although many initiatives were taken to boost agricultural growth, there is a need to examine if policy changes are required.