New Delhi: Announcing a record foodgrain production at 241 million tonnes (MT) in 2010-11, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said the country still needs to produce more to meet the rising demand, besides controlling high food prices.
The overall growth of agriculture is likely to be 3% during the 11th Five year Plan (2007-2012), which is less than the targeted 4%, he said.
“Although foodgrain production has since (after 2006-07) regained the requisite momentum and the agriculture sector as a whole is set to grow at 3% per annum during the 11th Plan, we cannot be complacent.
“We must note that this is less than the targeted 4% and a consequence in recent years has been unacceptable levels of food price inflation. I expect the 12th Plan to contain all measures that are required to accelerate our agricultural growth rate,” he said, while delivering foundation day lecture of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
The foodgrain production in 2010-11 crop year (July-June) at 241 MT is higher by 5 MT than the forecast made in April and 23 MT more as compared to the previous year.
“An estimated production of 241 MT was achieved because of record production of wheat, maize and pulses,” Singh said.
He, however, said the challenges that the agriculture sector faces in the coming years “remain large”.
Pointing out that the country is still facing problem of under-nutrition and dependent on imports of pulses and edible oils, Singh said: “We clearly need a second Green Revolution, that is broad-based, inclusive and sustainable. We need to produce more”.
The Prime Minister noted that foodgrains demand is projected at about 280 MT by 2020-21 and to meet this requirement, the foodgrains output needs to grow by 2% annually, which he termed as “enormous task”.
“The enormity of the task ahead is indicated by the fact that during the 10 year period (1997-98 to 2006-07), our foodgrain production grew at an average annual rate of only 1%,” Singh said.
Expressing concern over stagnated crop yields over the years, he stressed that 12th Plan should contain all measures to accelerate the farm sector growth.
Singh emphasized that there is need to step up spending in agriculture research, increase irrigation facilities and promote biotechnology carefully to boost crop productivity and enhance farmers’ income.
“India currently spends about 0.6% of its agricultural GDP on agricultural R&D. This needs to be enhanced at least 2 to 3 times by 2020, since a substantial portion of our agricultural growth would come through the application of new technologies,” he said.
He further said India’s agriculture is largely dependent on monsoon and there is an urgent need to improve the efficiency of irrigation facilities from the existing 30% to 50%.
Singh also pointed out that the climate change has emerged as a major challenge for the agriculture sector in the country and there is a need to develop climate resilient crop varieties, cropping patterns and management practices.
In order to bridge the gap in farm yields, the Prime Minister told agri-scientists, “...your main client is the farmer. You must get your research questions primarily from the farmers. This is perhaps the most difficult of the challenges that you must overcome in the years ahead”.
Singh awarded five states -- Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Orrisa, Assam, and Tripura -- with ‘Krishi Karman´ award for achieving high foodgrain output in 2010-11.