“There are multiple opportunities in Indian agriculture today to achieve sustainable growth and productivity, given the grit and determination of Indian farmers and a proactive Government,” said ITC Chairman Sanjiv Puri while speaking at the CII Agro Tech Summit 2022 here on Friday.
Puri who is also a Chairman of the CII Agro Tech India 2022 further said that agriculture is the lifeline of the economy and roughly half of India’s workforce is engaged in this sector. However, its contribution to the GVA is only about 18% with challenges such as low productivity and wastages, which translates to lower farm incomes.
On challenges to the sector and the impact of climate change, Puri said, “Today the sector is faced with a challenge of epic proportions and it’s not unique to this sector or to India. Last year many countries experienced events that dramatically reduced crop production. This year is no different – we have challenges in Europe, China and the US and recently in Indonesia. We have a neighbor whose agriculture sector has been devastated.”
India has its own share of problems – first with wheat and now with rice. Although there is great commitment towards net zero by countries and corporates, the reality is that extreme weather events will only multiply as articulated by the IPCC report, he maintained.
Elaborating on the opportunities for agriculture he said that by 2050 given the population growth and better consumption patterns, India will need 60% more food.
There is also a movement towards healthier and nutritious food products that gives the opportunity for value addition. Agriculture being a provider of bio-diesel which tackles climate change – is another opportunity in India, he asserted.
“India has the largest arable land in the world and there is a huge opportunity to multiply and grow our productivity levels. We are self-sufficient today and we also have the distinction of having exported agri products worth 50 billion USD but I think we can do much more,”
On the pathways that Indian agriculture can traverse towards sustainable growth and productivity Puri said, “There are some important pathways available to us to surmount the challenges. One is the power of Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) and the power of aggregation. The Government of India has taken very far sighted steps to promote FPOs with multi-dimensional schemes to support capacity building and value addition. This is the pivot that will transform Indian agriculture.”