Food security holds key to peace, prosperity:  Mangla Rai

PATNA: Bihar is going through a silent revolution as far as agriculture and food production is concerned. There is a new generation of agripreneurs experimenting with new techniques, adopting new technologies, growing new crops. On the other hand, government authorities have been devising new policies and offering various facilities and subsidies to help farmers increase their production.

Speaking at the 5 th Bihar Times Conclave, Advisor to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and former DG of ICAR Mangla Rai said that the state has been making all efforts to increase food production, because the current production is not enough to feed everyone.

He said, “People keep talking about food security in India. We have food security only because not all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs. If everyone would be able to buy it, the scenario would change.”

Stressing on the need to invest more in the agriculture sector, he said that only 140 million hectares were being used for farming in the 1950s. Although the population has grown manifold since then, the same amount of land is being used for farming even today. Thus use of technology has become quite important.

He said, “Peace, prosperity, tranquility won’t come without ensuring food security for everyone. Thus the government has adopted a multidimensional approach to achieve it. One of the unique initiatives is ‘Gyan Vaahan, Vikas Vaahan’ which will visit public places in villages and towns to educate farmers about farming various crops in that particular area.”

He also pointed out that the focus is also on the integrated harvest model, which is effective and can provide income to the farmer all the time.

N Vijaya Lakshmi, Principal Secretary, Animal Husbandry & Fisheries Resources, Government of Bihar, said that inclusion of the three most important factors -- governance, infrastructure and technology is necessary to revolutionise the agriculture sector.

“The government is determined to support farmers in all its capacities, electricity and road networks have improved significantly. Technology, ranging from AI to IoT, is also being used in full capacity. Drone technology and remote censoring have been making huge contributions. Lack of proper storage facilities is still a challenge which amounts to 15-17 per cent losses every year,” she said.

Stressing on the need of promoting farming as any other industry, N Vijaya Lakshmi said that growing population and decreasing interest in agriculture will pose a major challenge.

She said that the current population of 130 crore will increase to 160 crore by 2047, but the agriculture workforce will decrease. As people tend to migrate from rural to urban areas, urban and rural populations will become almost equal. Water level may go down.

“We need to revolutionise the agriculture sector but awareness is must for any revolution. Adoption of an integrated farming model may be helpful. Studying the type of land and going for new crops suitable for that particular climate will also bore positive results,” she added.

SK Gautam from Jain Irrigation said that there is lack of awareness among farmers that needs to be addressed. He shared various case studies and said that the solar and drip irrigation will improve livelihoods of marginal farmers in Bihar.


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