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Economic survey bats for high-value less water consuming crops

New Delhi, Jan 31: The agriculture sector has grown 3.9 per cent in the ongoing financial year but the focus should be trained on crop diversification and high-value crops, the Economic Survey for 2021-22 released on Monday said.

The annual report tabled a day ahead of the presentation of the general budget, emphasised crop diversification towards oilseeds, pulses and horticulture by addressing the core issues of irrigation, investment, credit and markets.

“While the Government has adopted the use of MSP as a signal to encourage crop diversification, there is also a need for coordinated action from the State Governments to facilitate the shift to high value and less water consuming crops to enable realization of the objective of doubling farmers’ income sustainably,” it said.

Research and development in agriculture and allied sectors can play a major role in the realisation of sustainable agriculture practice. Research shows that every rupee spent on agricultural research and development yields better returns compared to returns on money spent on subsidies or other expenditures on inputs. The increase in agriculture R & D, therefore, may improve productivity in the crop and allied sectors, it said.

There is also a need to improve the productivity of small and marginal farmers through the development and implementation of smallholding farm technologies, the report said, adding there is also a need to explore options and promote the use of alternative fertilizers such as Nano Urea and organic fertiliser which protect the soil, are more productive and contribute to higher nutrient use efficiency.

Besides, attention should be laid on the use of new technology including drones and AI-based decision support systems, reduction in the use of chemical fertilizers and use of low-cost organic inputs and supporting start-ups for innovations, the report suggested.