President Pranab Mukherjee spoke at the inauguration of five-day national agricultural exhibition - Krishi Vasant, 2014 - in Nagpur

President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday praised Union Minister Sharad Pawar for the “tremendous progress” witnessed by the country’s farming sector during his 10-years at the helm of the Agriculture Ministry.

“In these 10 years we have made tremendous achievement in the production of various crops,” Mr.Mukherjee said in Nagpur at the inauguration of a five-day national agriculture exhibition, ‘Krishi Vasant, 2014’, which was also attended by Mr.Pawar.

Mr.Pawar, who has been Agriculture Minister for the past 10 years, has given a “new direction” to the farming sector, the President added. Maharashtra Governor K.Sankaranarayanan presided over the function while Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan was also present.

Meanwhile, in his remarks, the President urged industry to join hands with farmers to enhance agricultural production through use of the latest technology. India no longer depends on foreign countries for food grains, the President said, adding that, on the contrary, the country is in a position to export its produce after having achieved self-sufficiency in agriculture.

Mr.Mukherjee said it was high time that industry and agriculture came together to utilise innovative technologies to enhance farm output. India is the world’s No.1 exporter of rice and the second largest exporter of wheat, the President said, adding that the country has not lagged behind in the export of pulses either.

Recalling his tenure as Union Finance Minister, Mr.Mukherjee said that he had pushed for rice cultivation in the eastern part of the country, a move which was now beginning to pay dividends. He said that 51 per cent of the country’s rice output now comes from eastern states such as West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand and Bihar and from eastern Uttar Pradesh.

The government has initiated a series of steps including crop study, crop credit, and modern technology to help the farming sector, Mr.Mukherjee said.

He also stated that the government had disbursed loans to the tune of a cumulative Rs.7 lakh crore among farmers.