Crop diversification can ensure rural prosperity especially farmers at this juncture, which will prove to be a game changer for all the agrarian states like Punjab. The Punjab Chief Secretary, Anirudh Tewari, stated this while chairing a National Thematic Workshop on “Diversification of Crops”, held at at Indian School of Business, Mohali on Thursday. This event was organized by the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Punjab under the aegis of Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India.Addressing the inaugural session, the Chief Secretary stressed upon the need of crop diversification for whole of the Nation and not only for Punjab and the role of stake holder consideration in policy formulation for crop diversification plan on top agenda. “Main objective of Crop diversification is to boost the prosperity of the farmers along with practicing sustainable agriculture”, he emphasised.He further added that efforts needed for crop diversification at this point of time will be no less than the efforts put by the stakeholders at the time of green revolution. Mr. Tewari put forward an open question to all the participants about Why, What and How of crop diversification and stressed that the sessions should try to address these questions.
While welcoming the participants, Financial Commissioner, Agriculture Mr. D.K. Tiwari put forward the views on the uncertainty of agriculture due to its dependency on natural forces. Quoting the food wastage generated every year, he stressed upon the steps to progress in the area of sustainable, viable agriculture with the natural resource conservation.Mr. Ritesh Chauhan, Joint Secretary GOI, indicated regarding inclusion of states in National level policy making being an open forum for all stake holders by adopting bottom up approach. He also called for vigorous participation of states in formulating crop diversification plan.Dr. Neelam Patel, Senior Advisor (Agriculture) to Niti Aayog disclosed the six themes identified by GOI in different field viz. crop diversification with self sufficiency in oil seed and pulses, water security, Health, Urban Governance, Promotion of exports. She emphasized to develop a road map for self sufficiency up to 2025 taking care of the state factors, resources and challenges in policy program.Mr. Ajay Vir Jakhar, former Chairman Punjab State Farmers Commission categorically stated that the crop diversification is not only an idea, but till date an unrealized dream. He also stated that problems like farmer debt, depleting water table, loss of biodiversity etc. can be cured with the crop diversification as significant number of man days can be generated with the diversification of crops.
He also stressed upon the union government to fully support the Punjab state in setting up a Transmission Commission for Punjab to secure India’s nutritional security through crop diversification program.Professor Ashwini Chhatre from ISB Hydrabad through his online address quoted that climate smart agriculture is the hard need of hour for Punjab and other states as mono cropping is unsuitable for our ecosystem. He emphasized to define the units/ level of crop diversification and need for insurance mechanism in case of climate hazards. During the workshop seven sessions on different topics related to crop diversification were conducted on Need for Diversification of Crops, Research/Technological/Farm Mechanization Intervention in Crop Diversification, Role of Horticulture in Crop Diversification, Animal Husbandry/Allied Sectors Role and Crop Diversification, Farmer Producer Organization , Farmer Cooperatives and Other stake Holders in Crop Diversification, Post Crop Diversification: Importance of Food Processing & Agro Industries and Role of MSP and Markets in crop Diversification.The Chief Secretary also informed that a series of regional conferences on Crop Diversification involving the region specific issues would also be held in different region of the country and thereafter a consolidated report will be submitted to GOI.