Agriculture continues to be a powerful engine for rural prosperity, economic growth and social transformation world over and especially for the developing countries. In India, Africa and in many Asian countries agriculture holds critical importance to the economy as in the developing world 40% - 70% of the population directly depends on farm sector for its livelihood and sustenance. Agriculture in India and globally is undergoing a rapid transformation post WTO regime, governing the global trade in food and agriculture
Indian agriculture and farmers as well as agro industries are presently passing through a critical phase but there is no credible body to articulate its views and take up issues at the national and international level. In this context, there is a long felt need of having an apex body, which could act as a think tank, information bank, advocacy group, watch-dog, development catalyst, trade, technology and investments facilitator and monitoring center for food and agriculture sector at national and global level. This should act as parallel to trade bodies like CII, FICCI etc., but be different from them in scope and objectives to represent not only the interests of the industry but also the sector as a whole, including the farming community.
The fast changing trade and economic environment globally requires a paradigm shift in our approach. We have to act proactively and respond positively to the changing dynamics of global trade and agriculture. The bench-marks are now global and we have to prepare our policies and strategies with global perspective. Though the country has become self reliant in food grains production, its average productivity and quality is low and the cost of production high, which makes Indian agriculture less competitive in the world market. Therefore, there is need for global cooperation in agriculture and much greater need for boosting up trade in food and agriculture. This sector also promises great potential for start-up ventures and entrepreneurship opportunities, which the new body can facilitate.
A paradigm shift is required in our approach to agriculture; from production to marketing, from quantity to quality and domestic to international consumers. The agriculture has to be practiced on scientific lines with the use of best of technologies that are available globally, if it has to compete globally in cost and quality. A major program on crops shifting has to be implemented, taking in view the global benchmarking and our core competitive strengths in various crops. The importance of internal reforms and direction to the sector is enhanced on account of centrality of food and agriculture in the global trade post WTO.
There are however, contradictions in our policies with compartmentalized approach due to absence of a dialogue mechanism among various stake-holders. The Government, policy makers, research bodies, extension agencies, industry, development institutions and farmers groups think in different directions, often with contradictory approach for the same ultimate cause. Within food and agro industry also there are different bodies for specific interest areas.
Every major input and every major farm output industry has its own interest groups and representative bodies, but there is no coordination, while the major issues concern all of them and their target group is farmer on one hand and the consumer on the other, who are common to all of them. This underlines the need for such body, which encompasses the compartmentalized approaches and strives for consensus on major issues and reconciliations of approaches by creating proper understanding and opinions on major issues that concern Indian agriculture, farmers and agri-food industry. And at the same time it works on policy issues, promotes investments and agribusinesses, facilitates cooperation in trade and technologies and unleashes the potential of food and agriculture globally.
With this background Indian Council of Food and Agriculture was created in 2015, after prolonged consultations and global studies over a period of 12 years. ICFA promises to address all the above concerns and needs of the food and agriculture sector and unleash the potential towards empowering the farms and farmers.