Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday called for “long-term structural changes” to make agriculture “more profitable, sustainable and resilient”. “We must increase the resilience of our agriculture and make it a much more rewarding profession for our farmers,” Naidu said. The statement assumes significance as the central government is working on a farm package to tackle the debt crisis in the agriculture sector amid a spate of farm loan waivers and rising distress in the sector.
“Agriculture should be our prime area of focus. As you all are aware, agriculture is the backbone of Indian economy. It is the primary source of livelihood for nearly 60 per cent of the population,” Naidu said while addressing the inaugural session of the 25th edition of the CII Partnership Summit in Mumbai.
Naidu said farmers should be encouraged to diversify into allied activities like poultry, horticulture and fishing to ensure sustainable livelihood. “With value addition, the Indian food processing industry and horticulture have immense scope for expanding its footprint,” he said.
“We must focus on home-grown food security for all, more investment, crop diversification and value addition,” he said. “With population increasing day-by-day, I have been emphasising time and again that India cannot sustain on imported food security.”
He said farmers must resort to organic methods of farming and practice and promote the judicious use of inputs and irrigation.
Naidu said reforms and steps being taken by the government to improve the ease of doing business will continue since the mood of the people is in favour of growth and development.
The Indian economy has been writing a fascinating growth story over the last decade, and even when the world went into a slowdown, India endured, he said. “This has been due to the robustness of India’s institutions, the resilience of its policy frameworks, the reforms initiated by the government and the responsiveness of industry bodies,” Naidu said.
Naidu said India has achieved the dual distinction of being a stable democracy and one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Recounting the latest forecast of the World Bank, Naidu said that the size of the Indian economy is expected to touch $5 trillion in a few years, which would further double to $10 trillion by 2030.
According to Naidu, due to various reforms undertaken by the government, India has become a favourite investment destination, with a ranking of 11 in the Global FDI Confidence Index 2018. “This is the right time for foreign investors to tap into the huge potential offered by India in various sectors from real estate to healthcare,” Naidu said.
Naidu said that a series of economic and administrative reforms undertaken by the government have not only added more tax payers but also enabled the government to bring down tax rates, also improving the way business is done. These are also aimed at making the economy inclusive, he said. “GST is the most transformational reform initiated by the Government,” he said.