Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu has pitched for more government investment in agriculture, as he bemoaned that “not enough” was being done by Parliament, politicians, and the press to address the issues related to farmers.
India is still an agriculture-dominated country but even after 70 years of Independence, about 18,000 villages do not have electricity, he said while addressing a huge gathering of farmers from Outer Delhi villages in the gardens of his sprawling residence here last evening.
“It is true people are drifting away from agriculture as it is not proving profitable, whether due to vagaries of nature, sometimes less rain, sometimes excess rain. And, so the biggest challenge today is how can farming be made profitable,” Naidu said.
The Vice President, mixing humour to deliver a social message, said the media has not been paying as much attention to farmers and the condition of villages as for urban areas and its residents. “The issue of bad roads and power shortage gets attention in the press but the condition in villages is not highlighted as much as they should be,” he rued. Besides, the politicians and Parliament should also give more attention, as enough was not being done.
“Parliament, the press and political parties, the three ‘Ps’, I say, more focus is needed from them for the welfare of the farmers,” he added. Naidu said by virtue of being the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, he would allow more opportunity for members to speak on agri-issues, and “whatever forum I will go to, I will put forth farmers’ issues.”
The Vice President said there was a need to expand investment in agriculture both at the Centre and state government levels and a “systemic and policy change” was required. “The Centre, state governments, ministries, agriculture universities, research bodies, ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research), and scientists, everyone should work for the benefit of farmers,” he said. He also pitched for providing more cold storage and refrigeration vans facilities for crops and vegetable products.
Naidu lamented that despite the Green Revolution and other growth factors in the country, the earning of the farmers has not increased. “So, some farmers want to give up agriculture,” he said. The farmers came from places as far as Kakrola, Najafgarh, and Chhawla. One of them also tied a ceremonial ‘pagdi’ on Naidu’s head. Naidu thanked the farmers for visiting him at his bungalow and said it transported him to his childhood days in Andhra Pradesh.
“I am happy that the ‘annadata’ (food-providers) have come to bless me. This place hosts foreign ambassadors, doctors ministers, and other dignitaries. By seeing this gathering you made me recall my past. My mind is still in the villages,” he remarked.