India’s emphasis on re-introducing traditional food: Agri Minister

India’s Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Sunday said the government has emphasised on re-introducing traditional food items including millets, other nutritious cereals, fruits and vegetables, fish, dairy, and organic products in the diet of the people.

“The production of these food items has been phenomenal in India in recent years and India is becoming a destination country for healthy food items,” he said while virtually addressing the second day’s session of the G-20 Agriculture Ministers’ meeting.

The theme of the session was ‘Working together to achieve the Zero Hunger goal: Successful projects implemented by the Ministries of Agriculture’, a release from the Agriculture Ministry said.

Reminding that the United Nations has accepted the proposal of the Indian government and declared the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets, he appealed to the nations to support the celebration to promote nutrition and sustainable agriculture.

Tomar stated that the agriculture sector in India has achieved great success after Independence, and had remained unaffected even during the Covid pandemic. He said that the various initiatives of the government to keep the Agri-market dynamic along with the agri-input supply chain during Covid have helped the sector record better performance.

“During the year 2020-2021, along with increase in the production of food grains, there has been a significant increase in exports,” he said.

Stating that bio-fortified varieties are the source of staple diet rich in micronutrients, Tomar said: “They are being promoted to remove malnutrition. Seventeen such varieties of different crops have been developed and released for cultivation. The Government of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken steps to increase the optimal use of water resources, create infrastructure for irrigation, conserve soil fertility with balanced use of fertilisers and provide connectivity from farms to markets.”

He said that India is fully aware of its commitments on the issues of climate change and several steps have been taken to make agriculture sustainable. The ‘Per Drop More Crop’ scheme for irrigation and ‘Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’ for organic farming is being successfully implemented, as well as the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana to provide insurance cover for the farmers.

India will share best practices and build capacities of other developing countries, he said, reiterating India’s resolve to continue working together to achieve the ‘Poverty Reduction’ and ‘Zero Hunger Goal’ and to cooperate in R&D and exchange of best practices to enhance productivity.

Tomar was leading a four-member Indian delegation to the G20 Ministerial meeting – held in hybrid mode in view of the pandemic – comprising Additional Secretary, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Dr Abhilaksh Likhi and Joint Secretary, Alaknanda Dayal, the release added.