India’s second Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri famously gave the slogan “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan” in which Atal Bihari Vajpayee also included “Jai Vigyan”. Now Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended it to “Jai Anusandhan”. There is a need to innovate in the agri-food sector by the year 2047 to have a well-nourished India with zero hunger, climate resilience and high income for our farmers.
India can take the help of solar energy resources available in the country for this. India being a tropical country, it is a nation endowed with abundant solar energy. Therefore harnessing solar energy becomes an important component of the renewable energy sector. India’s land area receives about 5,000 trillion kWh of energy per year, with the majority receiving 4-7 kWh per square meter per day. With a total installed solar power capacity of 7,100MW, Karnataka leads the list of states producing solar power; It is followed by Telangana, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.
With this, India is now the fourth largest solar power producer in the world. If we talk about the International Solar Alliance, it was launched by India along with France during the Paris conference of COP15 in collaboration with other member countries to increase solar power generation. Now India is arranging investment of more than $1 trillion for this so that developing countries can have access to affordable solar technology. In addition, India has set a target of 100 GW of installed solar power capacity by March 2023.
If we talk about the recent trends in the agriculture sector, then it is as follows in various sectors-
(1) Poultry and fisheries: Poultry and fisheries have shown the fastest growth.
(2) More intervention in cereals- Government intervention in cereals is highest through heavy procurement of rice and wheat.
Whereas those sub-sectors that rely on market forces, no matter how imperfect, still outperform.
(3) The policy implication is very clear that, to promote and normalize the conditions of markets which will help in promoting revolutionary development in agriculture.
If we talk about the challenges related to this sector, then the biggest challenge is related to government schemes. If we talk about per capita income, then this is the biggest challenge. India will be feeding a country whose per capita income is still around $2,300.
Under normal circumstances, the per capita income is likely to increase between 5 and 6 per cent per annum. Along with this, the challenge is also to provide safe and nutritious food to the countrymen. As they move up from low-income levels, people demand not only more food but safe and nutritious food. The government also needs to align its agriculture-policies. For this our agri-policies and strategies have to align with the emerging demand patterns.
What initiatives can the government take?
By understanding the food system as a holistic unit, we have to move beyond increasing production to safe and nutritious food. It has five dimensions – production, marketing, consumption, environmental sustainability of our food systems, and nutritional consequences. Efforts will also have to be made to reduce the level of degradation in groundwater. Along with this we also need to develop carbon markets so that farmers can be encouraged to change existing farming practices which are not conducive to environmental sustainability. This requires innovations in policies. There is a need to involve millions of smallholders along with institutional agricultural engineering colleges along with precision technologies related to sustainable farming as we did in the case of the white (milk) revolution. Digitization of agriculture can also help in this. We need to be like the agricultural innovators countries like Israel, Holland and America. Apart from this, the value chain of agricultural products can be increased by involving the private sector. As we move forward, diversification towards high value crops is essential. This will require the creation of efficient value chains by the private sector.