Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Thursday recommended the judicious use of chemicals in agriculture. “The contribution of the chemical industry to Indian agriculture cannot be underestimated, but a balance must be maintained to achieve sustainability,” he said.
While the government is doing everything to encourage organic farming, it is not easy to move away completely from the use of chemicals in agriculture, the minister said at the 10th edition of the Agrochemicals Conference, a webinar hosted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce. & Industry (FICCI).
The minister said India has carved out a distinct place in the global agricultural export market and now ranks among the top two producers of major agricultural products. India also ranks among the top 10 exporters of several commodities. Momentum has already been created and efforts are being made to double farmers’ incomes, he said.
Tomar cited the example of his recent visit to Jammu and Kashmir for the inauguration of Saffron Park, where farmers said they are now getting a price of Rs 2 lakh per kg due to the value-added facilities of the park, against Rs 1 lakh per kg earlier. Even during the pandemic, said Tomar, farmers have worked hard to harvest a bumper crop and the agricultural sector has contributed significantly to GDP.
Ramesh Chand, member of NITI Aayog, said in his opening speech that it is important to integrate the principles of organic farming as well as the use of agrochemicals in a judicious and sustainable way. He cited the example of Sri Lanka, where only organic farming has been encouraged with disastrous results.
“India has been practicing traditional or organic agriculture for years without much success. You have to learn to differentiate between throwing something away completely and using it in a balanced way, ”he said.
Bhagwant Singh Khuba, Minister of State, Chemicals and Fertilizers, and MoS, New and Renewable Energy, urged agrochemical industries to include more farmers in their network and provide them with good quality chemicals and fertilizers, in addition to educating them on the judicious use of pesticides. He also published a knowledge document prepared by PwC and FICCI.