To enjoy tomorrow, we need to prepare today. Similarly, for an Indian farmer to be successful, independent and happy individual, the steps need to be taken today. Low and highly unstable remuneration for farmers in current scenario does not leave a very promising future for farmers and agriculture as a sector. Coupled with other policy, governance and infrastructure problems, the sector is facing adverse consequences.
Hence, it is essential to engrain innovation in the DNA of our farmers and agriculture, so that only best practices are followed in crop production, post harvest mechanisms and value chain as a whole. Farming is a sunrise sector of the country in the 21st century, when technology is deployed to increase output.
So as a vision towards 2022, we should focus on 2 parameters- raising crop production and adding value to existing chains. Simple yet scientific steps will lead to raising crop production- crop rotation, proper irrigation and high yielding seeds are essential for the same. Though seeds contribute less than 2% of input cost, they need to be chosen carefully keeping in mind the requirements of the ecosystem. If land is dry, drought tolerant seeds should be used. If there are pests, then seeds repelling them should be adopted. Such high-value crops will be game changers, and are already proving their worth in other countries. Increase in production also entails managing post-harvest losses. As produce loses quality during storage, farmers are forced to sell the produce at very lower price. Hence, there is a need to improve the available storage facilities and integrated cold chains in rural areas. Using these produces as collaterals, farmers will be able to take loans for further investment as well.
Further, innovation needs to be integrated into the value-added chain so as to package the products better. Marketing the produce to build India as a brand is also imperative. New technologies through research should be introduced effectively and immediately so that farmers have enough time to incorporate the learning and adapt to the technology. By supporting farmers with market information (e-platform for marketing), we can transform them into entrepreneurs who understand profitability and sustainability and enjoy higher remuneration.
The road towards 2022 is quite predictive- innovation and technology owns the future. Now it’s in our hands to prepare for the same.
Dr. Smitha Kurup, Scientist, Mahyco.