Time is now right to shift focus from field crops to other frontiers of agriculture like horticulture, livestock, dairy and fisheries, a top official of the Union Agriculture Ministry said.
"The problem of food shortage is already behind us and India is now surplus in foodgrain production. However, the country is still lagging behind and is one of the poorest in terms of nutrition and this is where agriculturists need to look and go forward to ensure it is tackled," Ashish Bahuguna, Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, said
Speaking as the guest of honour at the 6th Indian Horticulture Congress-2014 here, he said horticulture was at crossroads and poised for a great leap forward. "What is inhibiting the growth is probably our own reservation, our own conservative attitude and reluctance to let go the shadows left by our anxiety of food security."
"We who want to be on the global stage haven't still managed to overcome nutritional security. One of the fundamental ways of improving this is by improving diets, by making fruits and vegetables available to the people, increase income sustainability of the people, their livelihood and agriculture is the best way to do it," he said.
Technological advancements in horticulture can lure the younger generation and there was a need to slowly divert from traditional agriculture practices of wheat to horticulture, livestock, dairy farming and go for more integrated and sustainable agriculture.
This would not only help reduce pressure of scant resources like land and water, but also improve sustainability, quality of life and general prosperity of the people, he said.
"With the backing of researchers and farmers, this Congress will set the agenda for a science-backed approach.The Centre will extend its full support to any such endeavour."
Eminent scientist M S Swaminathan said India was slowly refocusing its attention from purely food security as measured by calorie consumption, to nutritional security as measured by balanced diet, proteins, minerals and also drinking water.
An important catalyst of this transition would be horticulture and protective horticulture assures availability of fruits and vegetables all through the year. "For every nutritional malady in this country, we have horticulture remedy," Swaminathan said.
Press Trust of India | Coimbatore November 6, 2014 Last Updated at 19:48 IST