11 July 2023, New Delhi: A stakeholder Workshop on Strategy for the Promotion of Alternative Nutrition to reduce dependence on Chemical Fertilizers for Soil health and Sustainability was chaired by Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers last week in New Delhi.
Dr. Mandaviya highlighted the negative grave consequences of chemical fertilizers on both human and animal health, as seen with increased disease burden in areas where excessive chemical fertilizers are used.
He said, “Excessive use of nutrients in agriculture in an unbalanced manner has led to reduced soil fertility and vitality. Thus all stakeholders and government must work together to offset the negative impact of chemical fertilizers on agriculture.”
The Minister further said, “It is our responsibility to increase agricultural production, but at the same time we need to strengthen agricultural systems in a way that we do not compromise the fertility of the soil, as well as the health of our citizens.” In this, Dr. Mandaviya highlighted the role of the scientists of our country, saying, “We celebrate the scientists and their contribution to the nation, but now they have the responsibility of fulfilling the aspirations of the people for devising solutions that drive both agricultural, as well as soil productivity. At the same time, these solutions need to be shared in a way that can be understood and implemented by farmers.”
Emphasizing the importance of consultation between government and agricultural stakeholders so their suggestions and feedback can be incorporated into policies, Dr. Mandaviya stressed the need to hold these consultations regularly across the country.
Prof. Ramesh Chand, Member NITI Aayog, said, “Chemical fertilizers are easy to use, which is why people tend to overlook their negative impact. We must use this workshop to discuss ways to strengthen sustainable practices in farming in India. It is an interactive platform, and the active participation of all stakeholders is necessary to make it fruitful.” He further said, “Solutions for agricultural productivity need to be devised that ensure the welfare of the farmers, safeguard the health of the environment, as well as strengthen the agricultural sector”.
Rajat Kumar Mishra, Secretary of the Department of Fertilizers, spoke of the recent decisions taken by the government to boost agricultural productivity, as well as rejuvenate soil fertility. In this regard, he said, “With an outlay of Rs. 3,70,128 crores, PM PRANAM (PM Programme for Restoration, Awareness, Nourishment, and Amelioration of Mother Earth) aims to promote natural, and organic farming, rejuvenate soil productivity, boost farmer incomes and ensure food security in the country.” He further spoke of the increased role of Sulphur coated Urea, also called Urea Gold, which will not only address Sulphur deficiency of the soil in the country but also help farmers save input costs, and increase agricultural incomes.
Manoj Ahuja, Secretary of Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare termed PM PRANAM as a historic decision and mentioned that as production of fertilizers in the country has risen, so has the need for sustainable agricultural practices that can offset the harm caused by chemical fertilizers. He said, “We need to work with agricultural universities to take the message and benefits of these schemes to the farmers at the ground level.”
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