NATIONAL

Forum floated to protect farmers

NEW DELHI DEC. 7. F armers and industrialists have floated a new body called the Indian Farmers and Industry Alliance (IFIA) to take up the cudgels on behalf of the farming community in the country.

At the launch function, Anand Mohindra, chairman of the CII National Council on Agriculture, and Chengal Reddy, president, Andhra Pradesh Farmers' Federation, who took the initiative for floating the industry-farmers partnership, said the farming sector had been neglected by the policy makers. The result was that it had been deprived of what has been due to it.

"It has been relatively neglected and today farming is not a profession that would attract anybody who had a choice'', they said while declaring that reversing this neglect and promoting mutually rewarding partnerships would be the mission of the new body.

Mr. Mahindra said the demand for processed foods was likely to triple in the next 10 years. The creation of an efficient food processing chain from agriculture inputs to retailing could result in the creation of 60 million jobs. This would lead to increased demand for industrial products and services. Thus both the farmers and the industry would prosper.

Lately, agriculture is never given sufficient attention. The CII's mission to bring together farmers and industry on a common platform could achieve good results. Mr. Reddy said the new body would strive to provide education and information to farmers to diversify their production and use modern farm management.

The organisation would interact with the Government to create an environment that would facilitate increased private investment in agriculture. Sandeep Waslekar, president of the Strategic Group, said India could transform itself and achieve nine per cent economic growth only if an agro-industrial revolution took place.

This would require agriculture to be deregulated by abolishing the Agriculture Price Marketing Committee.

The launch function was attended by the Minister of State for Textile, Basavangouda Patil, MPs, farm leaders, businessmen and heads of financial institutions.

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