There is a need for the corporate sector to increase its share in agriculture sector from the existing 3 per cent to 10 per cent in the next five years for the growth of the sector, according to Vijay Paul Sharma, Chairman of Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices.

Delivering the keynote address at the SEA (Solvent Extractors’ Association of India) Global Castor Conference 2022 on a virtual platform, he said infrastructure is one of the major pillars in agriculture sector.

Though basic infrastructure facilities such as roads, electricity or connectivity have to come from the public sector, the associated infrastructure to that such as post-harvest management and other market infrastructure have to come from the private sector.

Stating that unfortunately the share of corporate investment in agriculture sector today is only 3 per cent, he said: “With 3 per cent we can’t expect growth in this sector. Let us try to take this 3 per cent to 5-10 per cent in the next five years. I am sure that we would completely change the profile of our rural economy.”

Technology is the another important pillar in agriculture development, he said the focus should be providing more hybrids and more varieties to farmers.

The important thing here is to take these existing varieties and hybrids to farmers. He said ensuring quality seeds to farmers would solve the problem, as the country has seen it in the case of pulses.

Stressing the need to focus on farm mechanization, he said many farmers are complaining about the labour shortage and increase in the wages of farm workers. Stating that the small farm sizes of many farmers come in the way, he said there is a need to find out some solution where mechanisation is more appropriate to the Indian conditions.

Other technological factors related to irrigation, water management, value addition, post-harvest management have to be a major driver for driving the agriculture sector, he said.

Stating that Indian agriculture in the future is going to be driven by new technologies such as artificial intelligence, smart farming, etc., he said digitisation would play important role in making agriculture sector vibrant.

Terming the right kind of incentives to farmers as an important pillar of agriculture sector development, he said he is not talking about government intervention in pricing. “We need to create a system, we need to have a vibrant industry which is able to provide the right kind of incentive, right prices to the farmers,” he said.

Institutions such as SEA are the other pillars of agriculture development in the country, he said, complementing SEA for providing the right kind of information and, extension services to the farmers.

Atul Chaturvedi, President of SEA said that the model castor farms of SEA have shown a significant increase in the yield. While the yield from normal farms is in the range of 1.7-1.8 tonnes per hectare, the yield from the model farm was recorded at 5-7 tonnes per hectare, he said.