New Delhi [India], Feb 14 (ANI): Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday called upon the scientific community to lay emphasis on enhancing the productivity of small and marginal farmers.
"The small and marginal farmers are the most vulnerable and their welfare must be accorded the highest priority," he added.
Addressing the 58th convocation of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute here, he lauded the institute's achievements as truly remarkable in the post-green revolution phase, considering the quantum jump in the country's foodgrain production from 50.82 million tonnes in 1950-51 to 283.37 million tonnes in 2018-19.
The Vice President asked institutions like IARI to utilise technological advancements to improve the life of a farmer and ensure that their research reaches the farm.
He urged them to serve the nation through scientific advancements and innovations in agriculture.
Expressing concern over the alarming prevalence of malnutrition and hidden hunger, he pointed out that more than 80 per cent of adolescents in India suffer from hidden hunger.
"This problem has to be addressed on a war footing as youth are the backbone of the nation," he added.
Hidden hunger is a deficiency of one or more micronutrients such as folate, zinc, iron, Vitamin A and Vitamin B12.
Noting that malnutrition was a serious health issue as it increased susceptibility to various diseases, the Vice President referred to the growing problem of non-communicable diseases and advised the youth to shun sedentary lifestyle and junk food.
According to an official release, he urged institutions such as IARI to develop high-yielding, disease-resistant and nutrient-rich varieties of crops.
He also wanted them to educate people on the dangers of excessive use of pesticides as it was leading to increased instances of diseases like cancer.
"A country like India cannot depend on imported food security. We need home-grown, protein-rich food to meet the needs of the burgeoning population," he added.
The Vice President lauded the institution for developing several bio-fortified maize hybrids rich in lysine, tryptophan and pro-vitamin A and lentil varieties rich in iron and zinc.
He said it was indeed a step in the right direction for making India nutritionally secure.
"Combination of appropriate policies, technologies, and institutional arrangements are vital to transform agriculture and make it sustainable and profitable," he added.
Calling for efforts to double the income of the farmers in the next few years, the Vice President also stressed the need for diversifying traditional cropping systems as it would reduce economic risk while increasing the scope for higher profitability.
"Diversifying traditional cropping systems and taking allied activities would provide resilience to farmers to withstand the vagaries of nature," he said.
Talking about the impact of climate change, Naidu observed that the rise in temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns were adversely affecting agriculture.
He stressed the urgent need to develop technology for climate-resilient agriculture and enhance the adaptive capacity of farmers. Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar was among those present. (ANI)