Empowerment of small farmers is central to the Govt’s vision

New Delhi, Mar 1 (FN Bureau) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said empowerment of small farmers is central to the Government’s vision. Addressing a webinar on effective implementation of Budget provisions regarding Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare through video conference, Mr Modi outlined the vision of the government with small farmers in the center. He added that empowerment of these small farmers will greatly help in ridding Indian agriculture from many problems.

He highlighted some of the provisions for Agriculture in this year’s Union Budget like increasing the Agriculture Credit target to Rs 16,50,000 crore with priority to animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries sector, increasing rural infrastructure fund to Rs 40,000 crore, doubling the allocation for micro irrigation, expanding the scope of Operation Green Scheme to 22 perishable products and linking 1000 more mandis with e-NAM. He stressed India’s need for post harvest revolution or food processing revolution and value addition in the 21st century, amidst ever-increasing agricultural production. It would have been very good for the country if this work would have been done two-three decades ago, he commented. The Prime Minister emphasised on developing processing in every agriculture related sector such as foodgrains, vegetables, fruits, fisheries etc. He said, for this, it is critical that farmers should have the storage facilities near their villages. He called for the improvement of the system of taking the produce from the fields to processing units and emphasized that hand holding of these units be done by the Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs). He stressed on the need for expanding the options for the country’s farmers to sell their produce.

‘We have to expand our country’s agriculture sector into the global market for processed food. We must increase the number of Agro-Industries Clusters near the village so that the people of the village can get employment related to farming in the village itself, ‘ the Prime Minister said. He said Organic Clusters and Export clusters will also play a major role in this. He envisioned that ‘we have to move towards a scenario where agro based products move from the village to the cities and industrial products reach villages from cities’. He also emphasised the need to explore ways to leverage One District, One Product scheme to take ‘our products to the global markets’.

The Prime Minister lamented that even though India is one of the world’s major Fish Producers and Exporters, ‘our presence in processed fish in the international market is very limited’. He said to change this scenario, in addition to the reforms, the Government has announced production linked incentives worth about Rs 11,000 crore to encourage products such as Ready to Eat, Ready to cook, processed fruits and vegetables, processed sea food and Mozzarella cheese. He talked of Operation Greens, under which the 50 per cent subsidy is being given for the transportation of all fruits and vegetables. He said in the past six months alone, about 350 Kisan Rails were operated and about 1,00,000 metric tonnes of fruits and vegetables have been transported through these trains. This Kisan rail is a strong medium of cold storage for the entire country.