Strongly backing the decision to allow FDI in retail, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday said that it would benefit thousands of farmers in India by facilitating the introduction of latest technology and sophisticated equipment in the agricultural sector.
Speaking at the golden jubilee convocation of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) campus, Singh said that the decision was supported by the farmers of Punjab, the state that is also known as the food bowl of the country. “Our decision to allow FDI in retail, which was approved by parliament only yesterday (Friday), was strongly supported by farmer’s organisations in Punjab. It will, I suggest, introduce new technology and investment in marketing agricultural produce,” he said.
“India, I sincerely feel, must take full advantage of modern technology and the operational and management experience of big supply chains in the food retail business to make this happen. I am confident that it will benefit our farmers, and the consumers of our country.”
In his address, Manmohan Singh urged the agricultural universities and other institutions to start working to meet the existing and future challenges in the agricultural sector. “The future is rarely a linear extrapolation of the past. Circumstances change and new challenges arise. It is therefore important to identify the challenges of the emerging future and start working right now to meet those challenges.”
The sustainability of water use in agriculture has emerged as a major problem in Punjab. Exploitation of ground water exceeds the rate of recharge and that is leading to a steady decline in the water table. This is clearly not sustainable. Similar problems exist in other parts of the country, but they are most severe in Punjab, where 80 per cent of the development blocks are now categorised as over-exploited,” he said.