Modi calls for new emphasis on technology to fight rising food costs

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Modi calls for new emphasis on technology to fight rising food costs

Related tags Agriculture

New Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has vowed to control food inflation in the country by improving agriculture productivity through modern farm techniques and collaborations between academia and farms.

Speaking to parliament for the first time since he was elected to power, Modi reiterated his view that no Indian “should go to bed hungry​” on account of the runaway retail inflation rate that has been in double digits over the last two years as a result of doggedly consistent price rises for vegetables, fruits and milk.

"We have promised to control inflation. We are determined achieve this target​," Modi said. "We will [do this] not only because it is our election promise but we want every poor [Indian] to have access to food​. This is the collective responsibility of all of us.​”

Modern techniques and technology

Highlighting the importance of bringing greater productivity to India’s hinterland, Modi said farmers need to look at modern agricultural techniques and technologies, especially with farm land shrinking from a rising population.

"There is enough food in the country. What is required is proper management​," Modi said. "We are committed to bringing down prices. It is our collective responsibility to ensure nobody sleeps hungry​.

"Today the world looks at India for software engineers. But we are yet to come up with a technology that provides real-time data​. An agri-rail network should ensure movement of food during lull hours of railways​.”

He also advocated the development of agro-based industries by setting up rural enterprises, large-scale storage warehouses, better post-harvest management, more soil testing and bringing “what was in the lab into the fields​”. 

And by making real-time data on agriculture commodities available, he said the country would be better disposed to tackling localised shortages of food grains.

"Agriculture need to be modernised. We have to take measures to enhance productivity of our land​,” Modi said, and called for an Indian "soil health card​" in line with what is being done in his home state of Gujarat to help farmers use proper fertilisers and grow only products that are suitable for their land.

The northeastern states and Sikkim were singled out by Modi for their potential to become significant cultivators and exporters of organic products that could cater to growing demand around the world. 

On a local level, he urged states to copy policies in Chattisgarh that have led to more effective distribution of food grains in spite of the Maoist insurgency there, while micro-irrigation projects in parts of Tamil Nadu and anti-poverty campaigns in West Bengal were also noted in the prime minister’s speech, which wound up the two-day debate on the presidential address in the Lok Sabha.

And he indicated that the government’s notoriously inefficient Food Corporation of India should be restructured for better management of agricultural produce, with three different entities to be set up for procurement, storage and distribution of food products.

Positive industry reaction

Modi’s words were met with praise by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), with its president, Sidharth Birla, lauding his “strong message that setting high targets and working vigorously towards achieving those is a collective responsibility​”.

Ficci is delighted to note that the government is considering building real-time data for agro products and modernising Food Corporation of India​. 

Ficci’s economic agenda has spelt out the need for such mechanisms to mitigate food inflation and strengthening agro-supply chain. We also welcome [the] Hon’ble Prime Minister’s ideas of transforming [the] northeast region into a global hub for organic cultivation​,” said Birla.

Meanwhile, Confederation of Indian Industry president Ajay Shriram expressed hope that the government would now have a focused approach towards easing supply-side issues in agriculture.

The productivity of most major crops is lower in India compared to most other countries and improvement in agricultural techniques can bring about improvement​," he said.

[Modi’s proposals] will increase supply of food products, make farming more remunerative and have an impact on controlling food inflation​.”

Related topics Policy Industry growth South Asia

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Congratulations Shri Modiji on Focussing on Agriculture and FOOD TECHNOLOGY

Posted by Dr V PRAKASH,

It is the right attitude and announcement of the govt that has been spoken out by Shri MOdi Hon Prime minister of India in Linking Agri Food Based Industries to Minimise Food Losses and wastes.Nutrition is the other related Subject that needs to be addressed immediately and prevent Death of Children below 5 years of age @ three Children per MINUTE the highest for any Country Currently.It is Preventable. Science is ready.Technology is Ripe. We must put into PRACTICE as a MISSION MODE of Preventing Food Losses and Wastes and overcoming Malnutrition and Preventing Death of Children below 5 years of age which is alarming due to Malnutrition and no Medical reach out in time.The same IT and ICT India must be used which has expertise to ensure the Networking and Interfacing happens across borderless Science. The call is right and timely and and the Nation must wake up to this call and ensure the desired Goods are Delivered. Every Citizen has a role in this and Mr Modi is absolutely right "No body would go to bed Hungry in this Country" is doable and requires a Mission Mode action to achieve it in less than 300 Days with appropriate Departments given the mandate and made responsible and regularly monitored by a Technical Committee...We are ready to Work 24 x 7 Mr Modi with you if this can be achieved as other countries have done with less and lacking Infrastructures and Harsh agri and Climate conditions compared to India.

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Acceptance of moedern technolgies

Posted by ananda alwar,

Honorable prime minister has pointed out for adoption of modern technologies for food production, post harvest management of the produce, Farmers should willingly come forward to accept technologies developed by the leading institutions and accept and collectively follow to contribute towards growth of agriculture as an enterprise.

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Hopefully This Will Happen

Posted by Bruce Rubin,

I hope that these initiatives will take place and that the issues are addressed.
I would like to believe they will but it remains to be seem.
As someone who is interested in and has invested a great deal of money, time, and energy in finding a solution for post harvest loss I truly understand the problems faced by rural agriculture and the need to feed more people.
I only hope investments are made in saving what is now grown through the implementation and development of infrastructure and a cold chain.
Growing more is not necessarily the answer to the food shortage issue it is both growing more with less land and saving more of what is grown.
I wish Mr. Modi all the best.

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