The input industry in the agriculture sector is upbeat on Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s appointment as the new minister and sees a replication of the Madhya Pradesh model in delivering faster growth across India with better tailor-made schemes.

After taking over the charge, Chouhan asked the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to focus on developing bio-fortified seed varieties and reducing the yield gap within the country among different regions. He asked Agriculture Ministry officials to overhaul existing schemes or even close those that did not yield desired results instead of prolonging such programmes. He has directed officials to see that results are reflected on the ground.

Ram Kaundinya, advisor to the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII), said members of the Federation are committed to ensuring sufficient quantities of quality seeds are available for the current kharif season. Chouhan had called for quality agri inputs such as seeds and fertilisers.

Timely availability essential

Stressing that timely availability of high-quality seeds is essential to boost production, Kaundinya said a national register of R&D-focused seed companies should be created to recognise and incentivise those companies. He also suggested reintroducing the 200 per cent weighted tax deduction on research investments in agriculture, which was withdrawn in 2017.

Since modern science and technology holds the key to increasing agricultural productivity, fighting climate change and conserving natural resources, immediate approval of pending biotech traits such as HT Bt Cotton, Bt Brinjal, and GM Mustard will enhance productivity and farmers’ income, he said. Further the FSII adviser said that the Centre should consider promoting Direct Seeded Rice through financial and non-financial incentives to farmers.

In the fertiliser sector, a top industry expert said the answer to over-utilisation of some particular crop nutrients is to encourage and incentivise customised and tailor-made fertilisers as per the the soil and crop requirements. Besides, in place of one district, one crop, there should be a rotation of crops to improve soil conditions, the official said.

Making Traceability mandatory

According to R G Agarwal, chairman of Dhanuka Agritech, a leading agrochemical manufacturer, the industry is hopeful that under the leadership of Chouhan, the agriculture sector’s growth will be equally remarkable over the next few years across the country.

Highlighting that Madhya Pradesh’s agricultural transformation was phenomenal under Chouhan’s leadership, the Dhanuka chairman said the easy availability of lower-quality seeds, fertilizers and pesticides is one reason for India’s lower crop yields compared with many other countries, including China.

“We expect the government to make ‘Traceability’ mandatory for all kinds of agri-inputs. Such a move will empower farmers as it will result in the availability of quality products to them. It may also result in enhanced food safety, and transparency, and promote sustainable agriculture practices,” Agarwal said. He suggested launching a special scheme to promote technology for the optimum utilization of precious resources like water.

Ajai Rana, Business Head (Asia Pacific) of RiceTec, said that India’s agriculture sector is thriving with opportunities, and positive interventions will go a long way in propelling the sector ahead.