Diversification of Agriculture

If there is any major drain of our hard earned resources, it goes towards meeting of our energy needs. A rough estimate puts it at over Rs. 15 lakh crore on annual basis. How long this drain can be afforded especially when the monopolistic price mechanism keeps it pushing up at oil producing countries’ whims, must cause worry to us. There is another aspect of it and that is like money spent once on petroleum products is of singular use only unlike spent on for productive purposes like investments in capital assets. It is akin to like consuming foodstuffs, because using fuel too is one time process which means amount spent on the costly item is just for one time utility only and that too of very short duration. While there needs to be a concerted and well planned focused thrust on fighting fuel deficiency and trying to narrow the gap of demand and supply from local indigenous sources, it is important to moot out the possibility of our vast agricultural potential coming ”to the rescue” of this fuel deficiency by resorting to the process of its diversification.
Union Minister Gadkari has recently hinted at this possibility and the need to focus on alternative fuels by adopting latest and futuristic technology. The utopian idea to cut down on demand of imported fuel and use conventional transport modes involving even the cattle driven carts on short distances seems presently out of context though not out of absolute relevance. That is fairly seen on roads, we are afraid, that despite consistent rise in fuel prices there is no dent of any sort in demand for fuel nor in the sales of the automobiles. What is needed, therefore, is not only increasing our sugarcane growth but increasing the by-products like ethanol instead of using it for producing more sugar. Such a diversification will make farmers not only best food growers but energy producers as well and fairly increase their money incomes. However, resorting to full electrification of our trains and using high power batteries in passenger transport, small vehicles including cars /taxies etc, as has already started but is still in an embryo stage needs to be accelerated. These measures coupled with the diversified role of our agriculture would bring about a change in the scenario beyond expectations. There is no place or scope to be non- serious about the issue.