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J&K, other Himalayan states to make significant value addition in India’s future economy: Mos PMO

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Jammu: Union minister Jitendra Singh on Thursday said Jammu and Kashmir and other Himalayan states are going to make a significant value addition to build India’s future economy in the next 25 years.

The Minister of State (MoS) in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) inaugurated the three-day Indian Ecology International Conference on ‘sustainable agricultural innovations for resilient agri-food systems’, being hosted by Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST)-Jammu, here.

“In the next 25 years of ‘Amrit Kal’, Jammu and Kashmir and several hill territories as well as the Himalayan states are going to make a significant value addition to build India’s future economy because these are the territories whose resources have remain under-utilised in the past,” the minister said.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi giving a focussed attention to these areas, they are going to play a pivotal role in placing India on the world pedestal by 2047, he said.

Singh said the agricultural innovations to enhance food security and productivity in a sustainable manner, climate-resilient food solutions, restoration of natural resources, future of farming, agricultural sensors, farming drones, and public health and food safety are important issues concerning the agriculture world including India.

“Policy makers and agricultural scientists in India are working hard on improving livelihoods and creating more and better jobs, including for women and youth, improving food security for all, including access to safe and nutritious food and making agriculture and food more sustainable and more climate-smart, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

Dwelling on the theme of the conference, Singh said agricultural development is one of the most powerful tools to end economic constraints, boost shared prosperity and feed a projected 9.7 billion people by 2050.

He said, healthy, sustainable and inclusive food systems are critical to achieve the world’s development goals.

The minister, however, emphasised the need to address the climate related issues to avoid their adverse effect on the agriculture sector.

Agriculture, forestry and land use change are responsible for about 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation in the agriculture sector is part of the solution to climate change, he said.

“The world faces a dilemma, whether to stay with those innovations that were successful in yields but risk catastrophic climate change, endangering those yields or to continue with innovations in agricultural technology so that we do not suffer those risks from climate change,” Singh said.

He said agriculture has changed dramatically in the 20th century as food and fibre productivity has soared due to new technologies, mechanisation, increased chemical use, specialisation, and government policies that favoured maximising production and reducing food prices.

“But, the challenges of the 21st century ranging from climate changes to pest attacks and conflicts could pose a threat,” he said, adding, “I am convinced that agricultural scientists are capable enough to help India lead the way.”

The minister said the ‘Purple Revolution’ originating from Jammu and Kashmir offers attractive startup avenues and those who have entered the lavender sector are making a fortune out of it, but what is required is awareness about these new opportunities of livelihood rolled out in recent years under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He said the pace of innovation in the country has assumed global scale, but the change of mindset also needs to be encouraged at the same pace.

He enumerated a series of pro-agriculture reforms introduced by the Modi government and said several path-breaking decisions like new guidelines for geospatial technology and relaxation in the regulations for developing drones are also enabling provisions for today’s agriculture entrepreneurs and agri-startups.

“This government had brought in an amendment in the 100-year-old Indian Forest Act which was enacted by the British government and following this amendment, home-grown bamboo has been exempted from the Forest Act so that the youth could use the versatile properties of bamboo for agriculture entrepreneurship as well as in other sectors,” he said.

He said there are huge reserves of bamboo in districts like Kathua and Reasi in Jammu province but these were never adequately explored.

Referring to the theme of the conference, he said sustainable innovations are the prerequisites for sustainable startups and sustainable means of livelihood.

To achieve this, he emphasised the importance of linking with industry right from the beginning and making industry an equal stakeholder so that the research projects are determined by the requirements of the industry.

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