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Patna : The Vice President, M Venkaiah Naidu on November 7, 2021, emphasised the need to promote agro-based industries in rural areas to create employment opportunities for the rural youth. Referring to the phenomena of reverse migration from cities to villages during the Covid-19 pandemic, Naidu said that entrepreneurship in agriculture can immensely benefit the Indian economy by creating jobs in areas where they are needed the most.

Addressing the second Annual Convocation of Dr Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University, Pusa, at its Piprakothi Campus in East Champaran District in North Bihar, Naidu said that the Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) can immensely help small and marginal farmers with forward (processing, marketing, and export) and backward (input and extension services) linkages in the Food Supply Chains. He emphasised the need to promote FPOs through handholding and capacity building, and appreciated the University for initiating training programmes in this regard, according to a PIB release.

Observing that Indian agriculture is characterised by marginal and small farmers with fewer resources, Naidu stressed on the need of increasing the farmers’ income through various sources, including improved resource use efficiency. Calling for greater use of technology in food management to ensure food security for all, Naidu said, “The developed world is already reaping benefits from the use of Artificial Intelligence in agriculture and India too must harness its potential to help improve farm income.” In this regard, he asked Dr Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University to work on the Impact Assessment of Technologies and also evaluate alternative farming techniques and their sustainability.

(Naidu inaugurating the Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya College of Horticulture & Forestry, Centre of Excellence on Embryo Transfer Technology)

Lauding the farmers for record foodgrain production despite the challenges thrown by Covid-19 pandemic, Naidu said,“Agriculture is our basic culture,” He urged the Center and State governments, public leaders, universities and research institutions, and the media to give more importance to agriculture. “We must see that the agri-sector is given all the support that is needed for development and sustenance of agriculture,” Naidu added.

Congratulating all the students who graduated today, the Vice President asked them to strive to excel in their chosen domain and contribute towards the growth and development of the country. He also praised former Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, Member of Parliament, for his efforts in establishing several farmer-centric institutes at Piprakothi. “I am confident that all these institutes and centres will play a crucial role in alleviating the problems of small and marginal farmers of the region,” Naidu said. Referring to the stellar performance of the agriculture sector despite challenges thrown by Covid-19, the Vice President said that this was the first time since 2013-14 that agriculture regained this economic prominence.

Noting that the university is continuously evolving its research and pedagogy, Naidu appreciated it for introducing courses in contemporary disciplines such as agricultural journalism, agro-tourism management, and also for establishing a start-up incubation center to help students start their own business enterprises. “Agro-based tourism will boost farm economy and  also act as a detox therapy for urban tourists by letting them experience the natural beauty of the place, ethnic food, unique flora and fauna,” he added.

Naidu praised the University for its innovative ‘Sukhet Model’ aimed at creating a circular economy/bio-economy in the village and establishing a self-reliant village. He also complimented the university for coming up with slew of technologies suitable for migrant labourers including women and for training them under PM Kisan Kalyan Yojna. In his address, He advised the students to spend half of their time in classrooms/labs and remaining half in the fields with farmers to understand their problems and find solutions for the same.

Recalling Mahatma Gandhi’s historic Champaran Satyagraha movement in support of farmers, Naidu said that he felt privileged and honoured to stand on that pious soil. “Champaran is also the land that gave Mahatma Gandhi Ji the name that he loved the most, Bapu,” he added.

Reminding the students that Bihar is the land of great personalities like Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Jai Prakash Narayan and Karpuri Thakur, the Vice President asked them to take inspiration from their lives and high moral standards they followed. “We are witnessing a fall in the standards in every walk of life today, be it politics, legislatures, local bodies or even educational institutions. This fall needs to be arrested,” he said.

Naidu also inaugurated the Pt Deendayal Upadhyaya College of Horticulture & Forestry (its administrative building and two hostels for the girls and boys), Centre of Excellence on Embryo Transfer Technology and Indigenous Cattle Breeds – Conservation and Improvement Centre. He also paid floral tribute at the statue of former Prime Minister of India  Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the University campus.

Bihar Governor Fagu Chauhan, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister  Renu Devi, Agriculture Minister of Bihar Amarendra Pratap Singh, Radhamohan Singh, BJP MP from Purvi Champaran,  Chancellor of Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University Prafulla Kumar Mishra, Vice-Chancellor Dr. R C Srivastava, Secretary, DARE & DG, ICAR, Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, faculty and students were among those who attending the event.