Stressing on the need for synergy between government and industry in sharing information in the farm sector, Union Agriculture Secretary Manoj Ahuja has asked corporates to have a shared understanding and intention to improve the sector.

“There is a lot of information available, but it is disparate. Something is with the government and something with the private. Can we bring that together to help everybody. A lot of people are doing crop estimates, can we share this info so that we have stronger results,” Ahuja said on Tuesday, while inaugurating a conference on scope of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in agriculture, organised by the industry chamber FICCI.

In 2022, the Food Ministry received different feedback on wheat output estimates from what the Agriculture Ministry finally released. Though the official estimate of wheat production is 106.41 million tonnes (mt), which is a reduction from initial forecast of 111.32 mt, private sector has pegged it at not more than 100 mt. The importance of correct estimate and timely forecast can be gauged from the embarrassment the government had to face when the export ban on wheat was notified a day after it was announced that a delegation would go to nine countries to boost the grain’s export.

“Even the Food Corporation of India (FCI) could have planned better to improve procurement had it been alerted in time about the massive fall in production. There is not only a need for better synergy with private sector, but also more deployment of technology, including drones to arrive at crop estimate,” said a former agriculture secretary.

Pointing that several players are working in silos, Ahuja said, “Being in the government, we can play the role of a conductor in a symphony orchestra. Can we bring about the synergy and work together.”

Need for simple solutions

The Secretary further said that it is imperative for the farmers to get easy and simple solutions for their problems through digital platforms. “It would be beneficial for the farmers if we can provide these technology interventions through a common open source,” said Ahuja.

He also said that the government expects to have ‘frameworks’ for scaling up interventions in the farm sector and sought suggestions if agri schemes can be converged to make things viable.

In her address, Vijaya Lakshmi Nadendla, a joint secretary in Agriculture Ministry, said that inputs, infrastructure, investment and institutions are the 4 important ‘I’s for policy framework. “The corporate sector can pitch and provide necessary investment for agriculture,” she said. But, Pravesh Sharma, Chairman of FICCI task force on FPOs, said that if there is one sector which is almost 100 per cent privately owned is agriculture. The policy framework that the government designs, has a great impact on how investments flow into agriculture, how markets deliver and how technology is adopted.