At Hindu BusinessLine’s Agri-Summit on 27 February, 2020 in Delhi, Godrej Agrovet’s Chairman, Nadir Godrej, gave his 10-minute address on doubling farmers’ income in rhyming verse, reports Vivian Fernandes.
While agriculture plods along, The other sectors have been strong.
Our service sector is the star. And industry has come quite far.
And yet all of us do believe, That very soon we can achieve
A doubling of our production.
We can conclude by deduction, That rapid growth is required
To escape the bog in which we’re mired.
Now at first glance it would seem, That this is an impossible dream.
Our farmers haven’t seen the light, And land and water are finite.
Excuses one will always find, But true success lies in the mind.
If we want to do a lot, We must cut the Gordian knot!
They say that land is no more made, (Except in Holland and Cuffe Parade).
Nor can we count on very much. For agriculture the situation’s such
That land is lost to other trades, For factories, townships, escapades.
This is a problem, yet all the same, We can still play the high yield game.
Much more can grow in every field, If only we improve the yield.
It’s done abroad, it’s tested here, And yet somehow we always fear
It won’t be done in the field, And still we see that the yield
Of hybrid corn is rising fast, Ten tons per hectare’s been surpassed.
Though corn is priced less than wheat, On value yield it can now beat
All other cereals by a lot, Much growth therefore can be got
By a simple change in crop.
That’s one more way that we can stop, The paradigm of measly growth.
Now strangely India has been loath, To certify all GM food.
I don’t know how this should be viewed.
Of course we should avoid grave risk, But every process should be brisk.
If others see a benefit, We should also do our bit.
Bath water should be thrown away, But we should let the baby stay.
GM’s a tool that we should wield, For further growth in our yield.
And inputs also play a role, Higher usage helps the goal.
But India lags far behind.
In China, though, one does find, The usage is many fold
And what if we could be that bold?
Now IOT in the field, And robotics can help our yield.
Startups can show us the way.
Technology can save the day.
Of this I can be very sure, With my experience with Omnivore.
IOT on field and farm, Has a very special charm.
Robots with Al have been tried, Technical services can be supplied.
Fin Tech can play a major role, Market linkage could be a goal.
And don’t you think it would be fine, If all of this, we could combine?
Our yield would go even higher, But to be a real high flyer
We also need to multi crop, Thirty percent is just a drop.
Why with three crops on all our land, Our goal for growth would be in hand.
But water would then be required.
The supply’s much less than is desired.
But for recycling there’s great scope, And that is what gives us some hope.
But right now no one seems to care
And if it’s free, that’s only fair. We’d solve the problem in a trice
If only we’d give it a price.
Much of the rainfall we could store.
Heavy users wouldn’t use more.
Sugarcane would moderate, And farmers would operate
With sprinklers and drip irrigation, And soon we’d find that in our nation
Demand, supply would quickly match, And we’ll cultivate every patch
Not just once or even twice, But while we’re at it, why not thrice?
For those who think that water’s free, And so refuse to pay a fee
We could allow a tiny quota, A kindly gesture for the voter!
But subsidizing irrigation, Doesn’t really help our nation
If subsidies aren’t paid when due, And companies are left to stew!
So far l’ve talked of crops in fields, And shown how to improve the yields.
Often the value from horticulture, Is greater than from agriculture.
A change of crop can yield much more.
This way of growth is very sure.
Vertical agriculture and hydroponics, Could also serve as useful tonics!
But of the Agri GDP, One third’s animal husbandry.
The dairy growth is very steady, But poultry’s growth is truly heady.
But the industry always dreads, Every time a rumour spreads!
Consumers take the strangest calls, Consumption then steeply falls!
Chikungunya, Corona virus, Quite strangely tend to mire us
In prices that fall very low. For poultry that’s a major blow!
One thing we should understand, Fast dairy growth requires more land.
If we multi-crop the field, And improve the fodder yield
Our dairy sector would then grow, And milk will surely overflow.
But the growth might be scanty, If we permit the vigilante
To disrupt the trade in cows.
The government should quickly douse, This fiery threat to life and limb
The situation’s very grim.
If on this path we choose to go, Our dairy growth will then be slow.
In fact, for dairy to succeed, We need to improve the breed.
There is a tool that we can wield, And that of course is higher yield.
Now normal breeding’s very slow.
There is a faster way, we know.
We asked ourselves what could then be, The cutting edge technology.
In agriculture Israel leads, And IVF met our needs.
Now cross-breeds are a compromise, And that approach once seemed wise.
The compromise that one would see, Was between yield and immunity.
Human nature is always loath, To give up something as we want both!
Of course we want the highest yield, And Indian immunity in the field.
The best yield from both sperm and egg, While immunity stands on another leg!
Not from parents but something other, The placenta of the surrogate mother!
But even more than the breed, We need to focus on the feed.
There are solutions we have got.
Precision feeding will be hot!
Now poultry is one way to go.
There are two products as we know
There is the egg and then there’s meat.
The egg is an amazing thing, And I for one could always sing
Its praises, for it’s packaged well, Within its own protective shell.
And in it you will surely find, Fine nutrients of every kind.
It can be cooked in many ways, Prepared in minutes, not hours or days.
And I don’t want to sound contrarian, But sterile eggs are vegetarian.
Not just an ordinary view but rather, The considered view of our nation’s father.
For both eggs and meat, you should know, That poultry feed conversion’s low.
Unlike cows they don’t eat grass, But in a sense they also pass.
Soya meal and corn are fed, And though perhaps it could be said
That these are foods that we might eat, No one would treat them as a treat.
And can we make the case much better, Not just in spirit but in letter
Make a feed that won’t compete, With any food, that humans eat.
Can we fulfil such a dream? With newer enzymes it would seem
The digestibility could be bettered, Locked nutrients could be unfettered.
And what would be your reactions, To feed made from low- cost extractions?
New technologies will enter, Protein that’s made in a fermenter.
I’m not kidding this is for sure, No need for land anymore!
I’m sure you’d all be delighted, A golden era has been sighted
With rapid poultry growth in store, And the ability to feed many more
Without the use of added land, Can help us meet the food demand.
Now climate change can be a threat, It’s often dry or very wet.
Sea levels could rise very high, And in the summer we often fry.
Act we must and pretty soon.
Trump now plays a different tune, But other nations will do what’s right
And for this cause, we must all fight. The price of going green seems high.
But better technology is nigh. Broad spectrum solar can save the day.
Biomass is another way.
Green energy capital costs will fall.
We won’t need more coal at all.
CO2 won’t rise but fall.
Some may find this claim quite tall. When green energy is cheap
We can take a tremendous leap, Make CO2 into methanol
Or even into ethanol.
The age of fossil fuels will end, Our climate then will slowly mend.
Our government can play role, And help us all achieve the goal.
Land ceilings could be slowly eased, Large tracts of land could then be leased,
A water pricing policy, Encouragement of R&D
And relaxing the APMC.
The higher duty on edible oil, Will help grow more on our own soil.
Indeed, a lot needs to be done. And Oil Palm could be the way to go
Many benefits would surely flow.
But when we all work as one, Obstacles can be surmounted.
Our successes will be counted.
Our agriculture will go far. This sector will become the star
And help the other sectors grow, Wealth for all will surely flow!