New Delhi, Jan 24 (PTI) There is need to diversify agriculture into energy sector in order to increase farmers’ income and reduce the country’s dependence on petroleum products, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said today.

“There is a need for diversification of agriculture into energy and power sector. This will not only empower the farmers but would reduce the huge crude import bills of Rs 7 lakh crore,” the Road Transport, Highways, Shipping, Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation Minister said here.

Addressing an event Rural & farm resurgence: Road to prosperity, organised by India Foundation for Rural Development Studies in collaboration with National Cooperative Development Corporation, Gadkari said farmers could easily produce ethanol from bamboo, rice and wheat straw, which could not only fetch them high returns but will reduce the dependence on petrol and diesel.

“The second generation ethanol can be made using bamboo, cotton straw, rice straw and residual cane-waste (bagasse),” he said, adding that innovation, entrepreneurship, technology and research were needed in farming.

Gadkari said a leading two-wheeler company will soon come out with a flex-fuel engine bike which can be run on ethanol.

Also stressing the need for organic farming, the minister said Indian breeds of cows like Sahiwal and Gir, which were popular in Brazil, needed promotion.

He also said unfortunately India imported wood worth Rs 40,000 crore and incense sticks worth Rs 4,000 crore annually, which could be easily cultivated here besides stressing on the need for bamboo cultivation, fisheries and honey production.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.