VICE-PRESIDENT M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday said that loan waivers cannot be the permanent solution to alleviate farm distress. Naidu was speaking in Pune at the inauguration of the two-day national consultation on ‘Making agriculture sustainable and profitable’.
“Loan waivers are not a permanent solution. In long-term, it will affect the agriculture sector and hurt the farmers. As a huge population is dependent on agriculture for livelihood, increasing the income and the purchasing power of this group is extremely important,” he said.
The Vice-President said agriculture should be made economically viable by identifying gaps in policy formulation. Policies should be pro-farmers and implementation process should be streamlined, he said. Stressing on the push to be given for allied activities, the Vice-President said activities like poultry, fisheries can help cushion farmers from the adverse effect of crop loss.
The four I’s — irrigation, infrastructure, investment and insurance — for the farm sector need to be strengthened, Naidu said adding that the need of the hour is also to ensure that there is adequate transfer of technologies to the sector along with adequate marketing efforts. “Increased productivity is possible if farmers have greater access to knowledge, technology and credit,” he said.
Former Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar bemoaned the disparity that continues to haunt the sector. “Lower income of the farmers is mainly due to deficiencies in infrastructure, knowledge, credit, skill and markets,” he said. While budgetary allocation for the agricultural sector has increased, Pawar said there is still a long way to go for wealth creation in the sector. He added that policymakers should look into revival of the cooperative sector, which has suffered post-demonetisation.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis spoke on the gaps in the marketing infrastructure in the state. Citing the record procurement of lentils effected by the state government, he said the godowns are bursting at the seams, but the government does not know how to sell them. The chief minister also made a strong case for adoption of artificial intelligence in the farm sector.