New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi hard sold pro-farmer initiatives announced in his government's last full-year budget, saying more agriculture credit and easy access to markets will help boost farm income. Addressing a conference on 'doubling farm income by 2022', he said the government will seriously look into suggestions made for increasing farmers' income and the Niti Aayog will chalk out an actionable plan.
Shifting of agri-marketing to concurrent list, digitalisation of land records, GST reduction on products made from agri-waste, setting up rural business hubs, improving export infrastructure, setting up of green logistics for perishables at airports/ports, real market information to farmers to plan sowing are some of the suggestions emanated from the two-day conference.
The other recommendations were setting of 'start up agri', agri-tech parks, incubation centres, early adoption of model land leasing act, increasing limit of collateral free loan, state specific investments and promotion of allied sectors and food processing. Modi said, "Your recommendations will be analysed at every level in the government. Some may be implemented in a short term, while some will be implemented later. I desire to take these (recommendations) forward."
The Niti Aayog will come out with actionable points after coordinating with the ministry concerned on the recommendations, he added. Modi also called for separate efforts to come out of traditional methods of farming and even suggested agri varsities to hold hackathons to evolve solutions to the problems facing the farm sector. Asserting that the government is changing the way agriculture sector operates, the prime minister said efforts are being made to build a new culture that will empower farmers. The focus is being laid on four key areas: reducing input costs, ensuring a fair price for the produce, reducing wastage, and creating alternate sources of income.
Highlighting steps taken to transform the entire agri ecosystem, Modi said 100 percent neem coating of urea has led to an increased efficiency of the urea itself, while also increasing productivity. Also, soil health cards — providing detailed analysis of state of soil and the crops it can support best — have improved productivity, he said, adding that this has helped curb use of chemical fertiliser by 8 to 10 percent and increase productivity by 5 to 6 percent. Modi said as many as 99 irrigation schemes that had been stuck for 2-3 decades will be completed within a specified time-frame and Rs 80,000 crore has been allocated for the same. Half of these schemes would be completed by this year end and remaining in the next year, he added.
In the budget 2018-19, 'Operation Greens' has been announced to augment farm supply chain that will help cultivation of tomato, onion and potato, he said. The prime minister said 22,000 rural markets would be upgraded so as to provide a market for farm produce within 5-15 km distance of production points. The government, he said, is also encouraging Farmer Producer Organisation. Also, the provision for agri-credit has been raised to Rs 11 lakh crore from Rs 8 lakh crore.
Promoting use of solar energy, converting agriculture waste into wealth and economical use of crop residue will also help in doubling of farmers' income by 2022, he said. With this in mind, the government has also approved blending of up to 10 percent sugarcane-extracted ethanol in petrol, the prime minister added.
Modi said as much as Rs 11,000-crore claims have been settled under the crop insurance scheme, which is double of the past amount. Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Himachal Pradesh Governor were among those present at the event.
Updated Date: Feb 20, 2018 23:00 PM