Yes! says Assocham, while suggesting measures to the Government in this regard
Stating agriculture has the potential to take India's growth to 8 per cent and create millions of jobs in rural areas, Assocham has suggested a slew of measures to the Government in this regard. It has suggested the NDA government adopt an enabling policy environment, modern technology and boost supply-chain efficiency to address food inflation, encourage investment-led growth and ensure food security.
"A well formulated Government policy with a focus on substantially improving Agri-infrastructure, thrust on R&D, encouraging high value agriculture along with an enabling regulatory mechanism can ensure universal food and nutritional security for the nation and substantially enhance India's competitiveness in global agri-business," Assocham President Rana Kapoor said. Some of the immediate measures are implementing Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act in all states to boost agri-marketing and supply chain efficiency and replacing input-based subsidies to farmers with low cost credit.
It would also include direct cash transfers and investment subsidies; encouraging private and foreign capital and grant of priority sector status to the food processing industry. The industry chamber also urged the government to develop effective communication systems between farmers and laboratories by setting up broadband connections and regional Kisan TV channels to disseminate real time data along with adoption of a scientific approach to roll out biotechnology applications for better yield and nutrition.
The immediate measures also include encouraging high value agriculture like horticulture, floriculture, fisheries, poultry and dairy to enhance job creation. It also called for setting up a dedicated GAF (Geographical Appellation Fund) to promote Geographical Appellations of Indian brands like Darjeeling Tea, Nagpur Oranges, Ratnagiri Alphonso. It suggested facilitating further investments in agri infra and PDS – storage, logistics and distribution through PPP, and allowing greater role for States under Decentralized Procurement Scheme and building regional focus centred around storage deficit States
Among the long-term measures suggested are better policies and technologies to increase pulses and oil-seeds production to contain inflation and curb imports; promotion of alternate usages of non-cultivable land to boost job creation; reducing post-harvest loss and setting up of Food Processing Industries.
It has also suggested other measures including availability of pulses and perishables in public distribution and mid-day meal schemes; revamping agri-exports through consistent and stable trade policies and focus on integrated food processing clusters for high-value exports.