Guest author: K. Ramm Shankar | Independent Consultant

Agriculture is the dominant sector of Indian economy, which determines the growth and sustainability. About 70 % of the population still relies on agriculture for employment and livelihood. Agriculture, along with fisheries and forestry, accounts for one-third of the nation’s GDP and is its single largest contributor.

India’s record of progress in agriculture over the past four decades has been quite impressive. It is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices and spice products. It ranks third in farm and agriculture outputs. Agricultural export constitutes 10 % of the country’s exports and is the fourth-largest exported principal commodity.

To bring back the importance of farming community into social consciousness Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited (TAFE) launched a nationwide program to recognize the silent contribution of farmers in feeding the nation. Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited (TAFE) is the second largest tractor manufacturer in India and is closely involved with the farming community for more than half a century. It was TAFE’s Chairman and CEO, Ms. Mallika Srinivasan’s vision to help farming communities around the world to prosper, which finally led to the ideation and creation of the ‘Be a #FarmDost initiative’ to recognize farmers in the public sphere. As part of the launch, students from local schools and colleges were presented with the #FarmDost kits consisting of seed packets, and were invited to join the #FarmDost initiative. The idea stems from the thought that if people find it hard to take care of just one single crop, in one square foot of land, they would truly realize what the average farmer has to go through, day in and day out.

The concept of TAFE’s #FarmDost initiative:

  • Encourage people to recognize and respect the contribution of the farmers towards sustaining a growing nation.
  • Inspire people to feel the earth between their fingers, experience the joy of growing something, harvest a small crop and in the process, empathize with the farmer and gain a greater respect for the farmer’s life.
  • Urge people to meet and interact with farmer’s to get a deeper insight about their work and the life they live.
  • It will be piloted in Tamil Nadu and hopefully reach over 500,000 people through social media promotion and be used as a model to drive it as a nationwide initiative.

Among those present at the launch included few members from the local farming community and hobby farmers who interacted with the gathering of students and mall-goers, giving them insights into how best to take care of the crops. Throughout the day the #FarmDost stall kept the mall-goers engaged with games and activities based on the theme of farming and also distributed the #FarmDost kits to interested people. TAFE volunteers interacted with mall-goers encouraging them to be a part of the #FarmDost initiative and join the growing community of FarmDosts. Primarily an online campaign, in its first phase the #FarmDost initiative will be driven as a pilot project on-ground in Tamil Nadu, reaching out to schools in its next phase and subsequently taken across the country.

Likewise India’s government underlines the importance of the agriculture industry: in its Budget 2015–16, planned several steps for the sustainable development of agriculture. The Department of Agriculture and Cooperation under the Ministry of Agriculture has inked MOUs/agreements with 52 countries including the US. In addition, the Department of Agriculture Research & Education (DARE) and the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries (DAHD&F) under the Ministry of Agriculture have signed MOUs/agreements with other countries, taking the number of partnerships with other countries to 63. These agreements would provide better agricultural facilities in areas such as research and development, capacity building, germ-plasm exchange, post-harvest management, value addition/food processing, plant protection, animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries. The agreements could help enhance bilateral trade as well.

Further the agriculture sector in India is expected to generate better momentum in the next few years due to increased investments in agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation facilities, warehousing and cold storage.

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