A just-released report on sustainable agriculture has called for policy actions that provide support for technologies and innovation to accelerate responsible growth in Indian agricultural production. It also sought incentives for encouraging a shift to environmentally sustainable agricultural practices.

The Yes Bank-FICCI report on ‘promoting sustainability in Indian agriculture’ said private seed companies could play a critical role in introducing globally best varieties at a price affordable to Indian smallholder farmers if the government creates an enabling environment for the introduction of new hybrids as well as for protecting intellectual property rights (IPRs).

It suggested reviewing the repetitive procedures (such as the need for a three-year confirmatory trial for any hybrid seed being introduced into the state, in spite of it having been tested and approved elsewhere in the country); setting up common and standard procedures/guidelines across states for faster approvals and enforcing a predictable IPR regime & The Plant Variety Protection Act (PVP&FRA) landscape to assure and incentivise private companies to further invest in R&D of more resilient and efficient seed varieties. Offering tax breaks on private sector R&D investments was also proposed.

The report suggested that by placing green products such as bio-pesticides and micronutrient fertilisers at par with bio and organic fertilisers, their usage could be incentivised. “Sustainable tools such as pheromone traps need to be heavily promoted. This could include incentivising fertiliser and pesticide companies for incorporating customised, controlled release and stabilised fertilisers as well as green chemistry agrochemicals in their portfolio,” it said.

The other key recommendations included a call to support smallholder farmers in the adoption of modern farm mechanisation technologies, promotion of climate-smart financing to ensure better access to credit, digital tools for extension and information sharing, pricing and support mechanisms to incentivise and reward more efficient use of resources such as land, water and energy, etc. Extensive promotion of soil conservation and soil health development programmes at the state level and integration of food safety laws in all agri-sustainability policies and development of a crop residue management policy in each state was proposed.

“Sustainable growth and development of agriculture – that focuses on balancing the requirements of people, planet and nature - is no longer an option. It is imperative,” said TR Kesavan Chairman, FICCI national agriculture committee & group president, TAFE Ltd.

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