Agriculture Minister Calls for Industry Support to Empower Farmers

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Bhubaneswar: The CII Odisha State Council organized the 9th edition of Farm2Fork in Bhubaneswar on Friday, 9 June 2023 where Agriculture Minister Shri Ranendra Pratap Swain called upon industrial houses in Odisha to extend their support and guidance to the farmers of the State. The minister emphasized on such assistance as it would help enhance farmers’ income and contribute to the overall prosperity of the state.

During the event, Minister Swain expressed his satisfaction with Odisha’s progress in agricultural production. Previously considered a deficient state, Odisha has now achieved near self-sufficiency in various crops and food products. The minister highlighted the remarkable strides made in both traditional and non-traditional products, such as coffee and millets, setting a noteworthy benchmark.

Minister Swain expressed his aspirations for Odisha to become a thriving state in coffee and millet cultivation, following the example of Karnataka. He urged the industry to support the coffee mission and assist in its global outreach efforts. Given the state’s excellent connectivity compared to other regions, he emphasized that industries should leverage this advantage to reach out to farmers and effectively market their produce.

The minister further acknowledged Odisha’s record-breaking production and self-sufficiency in fish and milk production. Despite cultivating only 50 percent of the available land, the state has achieved a remarkable 220 percent increase in paddy production. Odisha’s separate agriculture budget reflects its commitment to empowering the farming community and substantially increasing their income, which is evident in the higher agricultural yields.

Bhubaneswar Mayor Ms Sulochana Das also spoke at the event, highlighting the tremendous opportunities with millets offer for farmers. Similarly, she emphasized the great potential of the seafood sector, particularly in coastal areas of the State. Mayor Das affirmed the state’s commitment to sustainable seafood promotion, from sourcing and processing to marketing, reach out and export to the Global arena. She sought collaboration with the industry to establish state-of-the-art facilities and testing labs for the seafood sector.

Principal Commissioner CGST Shri Prakash Kumar Behera emphasized the enormous benefits millets provide for regional food security and their contribution to climate change mitigation efforts. Mr Behera highlighted the proposal of the fitment committee of the GST Council to reduce the tax rate on millets. The committee recommended a 5 percent rate for packaged millet products and a zero percent rate for loose millet, showcasing the government’s commitment to fostering an enabling environment for the growth of the millet business.

In his welcome address, Chairman of the CII Odisha State Council, Shri Sashi Sekhar Mohanty, stressed the need for collaborative efforts to make agriculture sustainable. He emphasized that sustainable agriculture leads to biodiversity conservation and plays a significant role in mitigating climate change. Mohanty also highlighted the direct air connectivity of Odisha to international destinations like Dubai, Bangkok, and Singapore, which provides a range of opportunities for farmers to market their products to the Odia diaspora residing in those cities.

The event also featured three plenary sessions on millets, seafood processing and export, and the business environment and investment opportunities. Several industry players attended these sessions, where experts discussed various aspects of these subjects. The Vice Chairman of CII Odisha State Council concluded the event with his closing remarks assuring the Government on partnership and collaborative efforts that the State Council will put in for the growth and development of the Sector.

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