Making agriculture more viable was the challenge before the nation and politicising suicides of farmers would not help address the issue, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu said on Sunday.
Presenting the ‘Yerarignar’ Award (Icon of farm research) to eminent agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan here, Naidu said agriculture universities and scientists should focus on enhancing farm production and diversification in farming.
“We hear of suicides here and there and again people try to make it political (issue)… (pointing to) this or that government,” he said, adding “the moment you make it political then the issue is gone (indicating that it cannot be addressed).”
Naidu said the entire country, including the political leadership and scientists should introspect on the ways and means to strengthen and sustain agriculture.
He said the need of the hour was to go in for diversification like fisheries aquaculture, sericulture, poultry and diary and also food processing.
Adding value addition to agriculture should be another focus area and government should think on improving infrastructure,including water, godowns and cold storage chains.
He said the Centre’s E-nam (e-national agriculture market), initiative which envisages farmers selling produce from their respective places, was now being experimented in 40 mandals and expressed the hope it would spread nationwide.
“Only then would exploitation of farmers stop,” the Vice President remarked.
He also called for an increase in public investment in agriculture.
Naidu said Swaminathan has done India proud by his vision, commitment, work and showed the world how research can reach farms and transform farmers’ lives.
Swaminathan taught us “home grown food security … today we are not only having food security but we are also exporting,” he said.
Naidu also hailed him as a “transformative leader” who inspired many scientists by focusing on problems of Indian agriculture.
The top scientist’s role in agriculture helped usher in the green revolution in India in the early 1960s’, he said.
Naidu noted that India registered a significant increase in agricultural production in the 1960’s, consequent to the adoption of a new agriculture strategy, which involved high yielding seed varieties and use of chemical fertilisers.
Promotion of irrigation facilities and use pesticide was also part of such a strategy, he said.
Naidu said the governments at the Centre and states should consider Swaminathan’s suggestions, which are “practical.”
Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, state ministers R Duraikannu and K Pandiarajan, Vice-Chancellors of state-run varsities and president of Agricultural Scientific Tamil Society, M Muthamil Selvan were also present at the event.
The award was conferred on Swaminathan by Agricultural Scientific Tamil Society, New Delhi, in association with Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University and Tamil Nadu Fisheries University in recognition of his stellar contribution to agriculture.