New Delhi: Making a strong pitch for growth of farmers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the country cannot move forward without their progress and called for increase in crop productivity by 50 percent.

Launching DD Kisan Channel, which would provide information about best agricultural practices and related content, to mark the completion of his government's first year in office, Modi lamented that present system had left farmers to fend for themselves and there was a need to make the sector 'vibrant and dynamic'.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at the launch of DD Kisan Channel at a ceremony at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi on Tuesday. Pic/PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at the launch of DD Kisan Channel at a ceremony at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi on Tuesday. Pic/PTI

"Why experts from various fields including seed, soil and fertilizer cannot come together to help farmers and increase productivity... The farming community is a big one. And, if we have to take India forward, we will have to take the villages forward," Modi said.

Linking the issue of malnutrition with low production of pulses, he noted that the country was dependent on imports to meet its requirement of edible oil and pulses and urged scientific community to work with farmers to ensure that there was enough production to meet domestic demand by 2022 when India celebrates its 75 years of independence.

Though his over 40-minute speech dealt with various issues pertaining to farmers and their betterment he did not mention the contentious land bill on which his government is facing stiff opposition, including from NDA allies.

The Prime Minister observed that a study done over 200 years ago has shown that paddy productivity was 15-18 tonne per hectare without the help of advanced techniques and fertilizers, while the average grain production was now only 2 tonne per hectare. The world average is 3 tonnes, he said.

Invoking former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and his slogan 'Jai Jawan-Jai Kisan', which gave a fresh thrust to agriculture and led to a huge increase in grain production, he called upon farmers and experts to use modern science to give another boost to the sector.