Focused Attention Needed to Meet India's Food Needs
NEW DELHI, July 2019: Mr P. Raghavendra Rao, Secretary (Chemicals and Petrochemicals), Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals today said that India faces a big challenge in meeting its food needs and thus requires a focused attention on various fronts.
Speaking at the '8th Agrochemicals Conference 2019 - Role of Agrochemicals in Sustainable Farming', organized by FICCI, jointly with the Department of Agriculture and Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals, Govt. of India, Mr Rao said that India has done well in agrochemicals, but a lot needs to be done.
"By 2022, India will become the most populous country in the world overtaking China. And, the rate at which urbanization is taking place, the requirement of food to meet the needs of the country will be enormous. It's a big challenge," he said.
Mr Rao further added that all stakeholders in the food business from farmers to industry and government will have to dwell on the challenges and make concerted efforts to address the issues like falling water table, degradation of land and productivity.
He said that going by the current rate at which India is importing chemicals, from slightly above Rs 1,000 crore in 2004-05 to net import of Rs 1,40,000 crore in 2018-19, the country's net import of chemicals may cross Rs 3 lakh crore by 2024-25, he noted.
"It's very scary. Though India holds 6th position in the world's chemical sector, its total contribution is 3% of the entire world market whereas China contributes more than 39%. We need to think of ways to reduce this import dependency," he added.
Mr Jaidev Shroff, Global CEO, UPL Limited highlighted that in order to achieve Prime Minister's vision of India becoming a $5 trillion economy, the chemical sector has to double itself. In days to come, food import will be a bigger problem than oil import, he warned.
Dr D. Kanungo, Former DDG, Ministry of Health and Chairman, FSSAI Committee on Residue Network, allaying fears of harmful chemicals entering the food chain, said that pesticides in the country are well regulated and not a single pesticide causes cancer. "Pesticides are judiciously used in India. Farmers are falsely accused of using high pesticides and fertilizers whereas it is among the lowest compared to some of the developed and developing countries. Besides, there is a large margin of safety," he said.
Mr Rajan Gajaria, Executive Vice President, Business Platforms, Corteva Agriscience called for a combined effort to dispel the mistrust on chemicals in food. He stressed on gaining consumers trust, convergence of different technologies and collaboration of all stakeholders namely government, regulators, NGOs, companies and consumers.
Mr R.G. Agarwal, Chairman, FICCI Sub Committee on Crop Protection Chemicals and Group Chairman, Dhanuka Agritech Ltd said that food security, nutrition security and health security are the topmost priorities of any country, and that New India cannot be made ignoring the farmers and the agriculture sector.
FICCI-Mott Macdonald Knowledge Paper on Indian agrochemical industry titled 'Role of Agrochemicals in Sustainable Farming' was released during the conference.