Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday said there is an urgent need to make agriculture more efficient and profitable to ensure food and nutrition security.
In a virtual address inaugurating a conference `Science for Resilient Food, Nutrition and Livelihood: Contemporary Challenges’ Naidu said, “If we are to ensure food and nutrition security to millions, there is an imminent need to make agriculture more efficient, resilient, profitable and productive. Pre-harvest and post-harvest losses have to be minimised.”
The conference was organised by the city-based M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF).
According to Naidu, the market infrastructure and the national road and transportation network must be improved so that farmers are able to get their produce from the farm gates to markets at reasonable cost.
“We must step up investments in improved storage, processing and preservation to retain the nutritional value of food products, rather than investing in highly processed foods. Food, agriculture and trade policies have to be constantly reviewed and updated to suit the times,” Naidu said.
Pointing out the negative health impact owing to poor diet quality, Naidu said there is need to reorient agriculture priorities towards more nutrition-sensitive food.
He said diets of poor quality are a principal contributor to the multiple burdens of malnutrition — stunting, micronutrient deficiencies, overweight and obesity.
Both undernutrition early in life and overweight and obesity are significant risk factors for non-communicable diseases, he said.
According to Naidu, there is much to achieve in terms of anticipatory research where one can take proactive action.
“Anticipatory research, participatory research and translational research (converting theoretical know-how into field level) are all important. Our laboratories must be firmly linked to our farms and fields and technology transfer and farmer education must happen seamlessly,” he remarked.
Naidu also said that India is a treasure trove of traditional wisdom when it comes to agriculture.
“Instead of rejecting this wisdom as archaic, we must make every attempt to integrate the best of these techniques into agriculture along with modern technology,” he said.