The first convocation of the National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) was held at Sonepat, Haryana, on Saturday. Indian President Ram Nath Kovind addressed the students and called upon the young graduates to make a difference to the farming and agricultural practices in the country.

As per world rankings, India leads in milk production; the country is the second largest producer of wheat and rice, third largest producer of eggs, and the sixth largest producer of meat. India also holds a prominent position in the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, and tea.

This has been possible only because of the farmers, the President said.

He said that students from NIFTEM should work towards becoming job creators. “You must help improve the lives of our farmers and thereby enable the growth and progress of this country,” the President told the graduates.

He said that farmer-centric schemes, such as Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana will provide opportunities as well as financial assistance for qualified people who want to change the Indian food industry.

Shedding light on the growth in the Indian food sector, Kovind said that the country’s food and grocery market is expected to touch $1 trillion by 2025.

Agriculture is an age-old occupation in India, and the country has always been an agrarian economy, he said. “The Indian crops have been cited in ancient texts—from the Vedas to Ayurveda to Yoga,” he added. The food habits in our country are diverse.

Each state—sometimes each district—has its unique recipe, and this variety in food preparation and consumption is what makes India diverse, he said.

Shedding light on the plight of farmers in the country, President Ram Nath Kovind said that millions of men and women toil day and night to grow food for the nation. These famers contribute to both food security and national security, making sure that 1.3 billion people are well-fed. “Farming in India is not just a job, it is a ‘tapasya’,” he said. “Tapasya” in Sanktrit means “generation of heat and electricity.” It also means a spiritual discipline that requires austerity and deep mediation.

The President said that it is time the Indian citizens reward their farmers for their efforts. “As a society, we are obligated to make lives better for them,” he said. He also added that farmers are often subject to the whims of weather. Nevertheless, they work hard to bring food to the table of billions of Indians, and their effort must not go unrewarded, he said.

Farmer-centric policies

The President pointed out that the government has implemented policies and programs to empower farmers. These initiatives call for the use of science and technology, and now is the time for NIFTEM graduates to step forward and educate farmers, he said.

He also said that use of technology in agriculture is not new in India. Innovation in agriculture has been a recurring practice among the Indian agriculture community. “Innovations were critical to our Green Revolution,” he said.

Highlighting the case of farmers in Haryana, he said that technology has always played a key role in the state where industrious and resourceful agriculturists took advantage of emerging technologies and increased their productivity. “The outcome is an India that is self-sufficient and self-reliant in food production,” he said.

The President said that the Indian government has sanctioned 42 mega food parks. These initiatives must be extended and the benefits must be reaped by every “khet” (field) and every “kisaan” (farmer).

The President also spoke about government initiatives like Start-Up India and Mudra. He said that if these programs are to have any real impact, farmers must turn into micro-entrepreneurs.

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