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Food for all: priority for agri-business

In the agriculture sector the value of information becomes most valuable. But the irony of this sector in India, even after being the back bone of national economy, is that, the information and knowledge levels are far from the best. Analysing this trend, Vibha Dhawan, executive director of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), advocates strongly the adoption of new methods for agri-business segment in India. Vibha is also associated with International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).

In an exclusive interaction with SupportBiz, she highlighted some key trends that are visible in this area and some key opportunities that can transform the Indian agri-business sector.

Edited excerpts:

Indian economy is largely dependent on the agriculture resources and the sector is facing enormous challenges including socio-economic and climatic. How do you look at these challenges?  

Yes, Indian farmers are the most important part of the entire socio-economic ecosystem of the country. But things are changing rapidly; it is high time for the farmers to stay aware of the changes that are happening around them. The climatic changes are some of the most critical elements of this business. However, in this bid, the industry must have to come forward and spread the knowledge and information among the farmers so that they can derive benefits from them.

What are the priorities ahead of this segment?

‘Food for all’ is the main priority ahead of this sector. The population figures are indicating us where are we heading towards. We must prepare ourselves for the future which is not far from here. In such vision, ‘food for all’ becomes a challenge ahead of us and it becomes our responsibility to come up with some sort of long term solution for the same.

What are the new opportunities in the agri business sector?

There are new trends in agriculture and crop segment. Farmers must be open towards these new trends. For example, ‘Jetropha’ yield is an area which offers great results to farmers. Natural resources are very much available in the country. New changes are happening rapidly. We need new plans to accommodate the climatic changes as we seek more agriculture produce. Secondly, supply chain is an opportunity in which a lot can be done. Sustainable supply chain can solve many problems which this sector is facing. And in this, industry can play vital role.

At the policy level, what must be done in order to help the farmers and agri-business sector?

Government is very serious towards these issues. There are initiatives like ‘joint forest program,’ which are vital in this direction. What is needed at the policy level is to come up with long term visionary policies; at the same time, these policies can help in meeting today’s challenges as well.  We cannot ignore today’s challenges and prepare only for the sake of future.

What are the tools that can help this industry at its ground level?

There are several co-operatives working with farmers at the ground level. And technology adoption can help the farmers in dealing with several on ground challenges. According to my viewpoint, technology must be routed through these co-operatives to help the farmers stay updated about the required knowledge and information.