Pune: Nationalist Congress Party Chief Sharad Pawar said that scientific innovation in agriculture should be driven by the needs of the farmers and that if there is no communication between scientists and farmers, the institutions that are built to help farmers will be rendered useless.
Pawar was speaking at the annual meeting of the Maharashtra Rajya Draksha Bagayatdar Sangh held in the city on Thursday.
Talking on grape cultivation in Maharashtra and its economic growth, Pawar said, “I go to many villages and I am in touch with farmers and the scientific community as well. Earlier, the cultivation of grapes was limited to the western part of the State, but now many farmers in other parts too are cultivating grapes. This growth has been driven by scientific innovation and government policy. But our farmer and scientific community need to have a regular dialogue to understand each other. If not, all the institutions built by us will be rendered useless.”
“There was a time when India was an importer of grain, but today, it is one of the largest exporters of wheat, sugar and cotton. There is a large market for Indian fruits world over too and Maharashtra plays an important role in horticulture,” the NCP chief said. He further added, “But we fall short in the quality benchmarks that are required by the international buyer. We also need to learn to pay a better price for the intellectual property of seeds developed to increase yield and quality.”
Talking about potential export incentivisation, Pawar said, “Apart from our internal market, we have a huge market like China for our fruits. I was informed that China holds a huge potential for our grapes apart from Korea, Thailand and South Asia. In internal markets, Delhi is a huge market but notorious for cheating farmers of their payments. But we will hold a meeting with Union Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, who is an amicable person and request him to make changes to the export policy and payment laws for the benefit of the farmers.”
BJP ministers skip event
BJP ministers from the State and the Centre, like Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, State Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, State Minister Chandrakant Patil, who were supposed to attend the meeting held at Balewadi Sports Complex on Thursday, chose to remain absent. Grape growers are concentrated over western parts of the State and are a politically influential group.