Agriculture experts on Friday said free distribution of ration has to be “realistic” and destination production on foreign soil should borne out of a sovereign understanding between the two countries to avoid risks many global attempts have faced in the past.

Speaking at a session on “Food Security and Outsourcing Demand” at businessline Agri & Commodity Summit 2024, Rajesh Paharia Jain, Chief Manager-Business Development, Kribhco, said the government could think of increasing productivity which would come through adequate intervention of support system, information to formers, increasing storage capacity.

Way forward

“Second is the free distribution which the government of India has been doing it like for food, AntodyaYojana that has to be on the ground level on a realistic basis. What number is being shared has to be realistic...,” Jain, one of the three panellists, told the gathering to a query seeking his three recommendations for the government as a way forward in the agri sector.

He also agreed with the other two panellists, especially with Unupom Kausik, Senior V-P, Olam Agri India Pvt Ltd, and cautioned against going for unmindful destination production, procurement and import. He, however, stated that India cannot avoid such a scenario and due to the increasing population, it has to go out to other countries’ farms for production or import to meet the demand.

“We should not go for destination production, procurement and import.. It has to be at a sovereign level. There has to be diplomatic understanding between two countries... individually as a company it’s not advisable to go there and face protest. With increasing population India has to go out or import,” he remarked.

The Chinese example

But for some individual efforts, Kausik cited the example of China, Australia to impress upon the fact that they could not succeed in their attempts to farm abroad and bring back the produce. The Senior VP of OLAM stated that make buffer of produce and time buying with global high and lows of prices, besides making farming climate smart or resilient as climate change has made weather patterns unpredictable which directly impacts sowing and harvesting as well as outputs.

Kausik also pitched for making agriculture a central subject as he was of the view that an optimal solution cannot be obtained by way of an arrangement.

Hema Yadav, Director of Pune-based Vaikunth Mehta National Institute of Cooperative Management, agreed to the suggestion while drawing the importance of cooperatives mainly in procurement and distribution.  “In my view three things are required since agriculture remains a state subject. An ecosystem where there is a public-private partnership. Secondly, we need proper market information because farmers are devoid of this market information. It should be technologically driven and AI-backed is what this industry needs. Start-ups need to come forward to solve this problem. Lastly, in order to reach level of export, proper training to farmers is required,” she observed.

Food security is the most talked about concern globally, emerging initially out of the Russia-Ukraine war and now the Israel-Hamas conflict which has choked international shipping of goods through the Arabian Sea which has come under the attack of Yemen-based Houthi militia.

The summit was sponsored by State Bank of India and co-powered by NABARD in association with National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange Ltd (NCDEX) and INDOFIL Industries Ltd. Dhanuka Agritech Ltd and Kribhco Agri Business are associate partners. The National Stock Exchange and Vaikunth Mehta National Institute of Co­ operative Management were the regional sponsors.