Mangalore : Chandra Shekara, Director, Agri Business Centre, MANAGE, Ministry of Agriculture, on Thursday said a combination of technology, group-led initiatives, growing crops according to market trends, exploitation of information technology, private participation, enhancing quality and favourable government policy could convert agriculture into a profitable business.
He was delivering the keynote address at the inauguration of a three-day international conference on Agribusiness Management-Opportunities and Challenges organised by Sahyadri College of Engineering and Management here. Mr. Chandra Shekara said there was no dearth of technology in the country as more than 70 agricultural universities and Indian Council for Agriculture Research Centres constantly working on improving technologies.
However, not all the innovations have reached the farmers and if that happened, there could be drastic improvement in production. The group-led extension by farmers would not only improve the produce but also enhance their bargaining power, thus boosting the agri-business. At the same time, farmers should grow the crops in demand and not hang on to traditional crops to get better returns.
The private sector had come to play an important role, particularly in food processing and marketing and the trend had to be encouraged, he said. Meanwhile, farmers should improve entrepreneurship qualities to become good businessmen. All these should be supported by proper government intervention in the form of policies to encourage innovations and inventions, Mr. Chandra Shekara said.
Inaugurating the conference, P. Chowdappa, Director of Central Plantation Crops Research Institute, Kasaragod, said in order to improve profitability and production, farmers should grow horticulture crops also. Value addition to plantation crops could bring more revenue, Mr. Chodwappa said, citing the example of innovating coconut chips, Neera and virgin coconut oil at his centre. If profitability increases, youngsters would naturally stay with agriculture, he said.
Manjunath Bhandary, Chairman of Bhandary Foundation, the promoters of the college, recalled old days of agriculture and said it used to be more of a social service than business. However, one has to go with the changing trends, he said and stressed on the need for agribusiness.
In his introductory address, Business Administration Department Chairman A.P. Achar said the conference had been truly international with 35 of the 200-odd delegates coming from two other countries. He said the conference would deliberate upon six themes, including retaining the youth in agriculture and how to convert farmers into businessmen. College Principal Umesh M. Bhushi was present.