Robust farm sector will eradicate poverty and boost rural income: Mukherjee

New Delhi, July 16 (ANI): President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday called for a robust farm sector to eradicate poverty and boost rural income.

Addressing the 85th foundation Day of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research here, Mukherjee said: "To alleviate poverty, promote inclusive growth on a sustainable basis, sustain food security, increase employment opportunities and boost rural incomes, our agriculture sector must be robust."

"Our agriculture sector has taken a great leap over the last few decades. Yet, there are challenges that lie ahead. Agriculture is the single biggest source of livelihood in our country. Some studies have indicated that a one percentage growth in agriculture is two to three times more effective in reducing poverty than a one percentage growth in non-farm sectors. The average growth rate in Agriculture and Allied sectors during the Eleventh Plan period was 3.6 per cent as against the average growth rate of the total economy of 8.0 per cent during this period," he added.

Asserting that the agricultural growth in the Eleventh Plan period was driven by improved agricultural prices, Mukherjee said: "During the Twelfth Plan period, the growth in demand for major crops is projected to slow down. We have to achieve higher productivity levels to attain the agricultural growth target for this Plan period. We must place greater emphasis on productivity-driving measures such as diversification of crops, improvement in seed replacement rate, adoption of high yielding hybrid seeds, and improvement in water management practices.

"Though the Green Revolution in the Sixties and Seventies brought about a considerable rise in food production, the disproportionate use of chemical fertilizers eventually led to a decline in productivity. The need for balanced use of fertilizers and pesticides should be propagated amongst our farming community through agriculture education and extension programmes," he added.

He said that ICAR and other agricultural institutions are engaged to promote fertilizer use efficiency.

"Latest technology must be deployed to assist decision-making by farmers regarding selection of crop variety, right agricultural practices and right markets to sell the produce," he added.

Stating that about 85 per cent farmers in the country have small land holdings, Mukherjee said to spur productivity growth in small farmlands, it is necessary to develop low-cost, light-weight, multi-purpose farm equipments.

Mukherjee further said the research institutions must focus on renewable energy models like solar power and biofuels to reduce dependence on conventional fuels and ensure sustainability. (ANI)

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