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New Delhi, August 29, 2020
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said agricultural institutions will provide new opportunities to students and help connect farming with research and advanced technology.
Modi was speaking at the inauguration of the college and administration buildings of the Rani Lakshmi Bai Central Agricultural University in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, through video conferencing.
The Prime Minister noted that agriculture has a major role to contribute to Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India). Self-reliance in agriculture aims at making the farmers producer as well as the entrepreneur. In keeping with this spirit, several historic agricultural reforms were undertaken by this Government, he said.
Just like in other industries, farmers can now sell their products anywhere in the country, wherever they fetch better prices. A special dedicated fund of Rs 1 lakh crore has been set up for providing better facilities and promoting industries in a cluster-based approach.
Referring to the continuing efforts to connect farming with modern technology, he said the research institutions and agricultural universities have a vital role to play. The number of Central Agricultural Universities in the country has gone up to three, compared to just one Central University six years ago.
Three other National Institutions, IARI Jharkhand, IARI Assam and Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Integrated Farming in Motihari, Bihar were also being established. These institutes will not only provide new opportunities to the students but will also help in increasing their capacity in bringing technology benefits to the local farmers.
Speaking about the use of modern technology in meeting agriculture-related challenges, the Prime Minister gave an example of the recent locust attack. The Government had worked on a war footing to control the spread of the attacks and to reduce the damage.
Dozens of control rooms were set up in several cities, arrangements were made to alert farmers in advance. Drones and dozens of modern spray machines to kill the locusts were procured and distributed to the farmers.
Modi said that in the last six years, the Government has endeavoured to establish a link between research and farming and to provide scientific advice to the farmers at the ground levels in the villages. He sought the cooperation of the universities in developing the ecosystem to streamline the flow of knowledge and expertise from campus to agriculture fields.
Stressing the need to take knowledge related to agriculture and its practical application to the school level, he said efforts are to introduce the Agriculture as a subject at the middle school level in villages.
It will have two benefits. One, it will develop agriculture-related understanding in the students and secondly, it will enable the students to give information about modern farming techniques and marketing, to their family members. This will promote agro-entrepreneurship in the country, he added.
Talking about the steps taken to minimize the problems faced by the people during the coronavirus pandemic, the Prime Minister said free rations were being provided to crores of the poor and rural families in Uttar Pradesh.
Around 10 lakh poor women in Bundelkhand have been given free gas cylinders. Under Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan, more than Rs 700 crore have been spent in UP so far, under which employment was provided to several lakhs of workers.
The campaign to provide drinking water to every house was being executed at a rapid pace. Around 500 water-related projects worth more than Rs 10,000 crores have been approved for this area. Out of this, work on projects worth Rs 3,000 crores has commenced in the last two months. It will directly benefit lakhs of families in Bundelkhand.
Work was is in progress on Atal Groundwater Scheme to raise the level of groundwater in Bundelkhand. Projects involving more than Rs 700 crore were underway to increase the water level in hundreds of villages of Jhansi, Mahoba, Banda, Hamirpur, Chitrakoot and Lalitpur as well as West UP.
The Prime Minister said despite Bundelkhand being surrounded by the rivers Betwa, Ken and Yamuna, the entire area does not get the full benefit of the rivers. The Government was making steady efforts to change this situation. The Ken-Betwa River Link Project has the potential to change the fate of the region and said the government is cooperating and working with the state governments in this direction.
He expressed confidence that once Bundelkhand got enough water, life will change for the better. Projects worth thousands of crores rupees like the Bundelkhand Expressway and Defence Corridor will create thousands of new employment opportunities.
Interacting with the students of the University, Modi expressed the hope that after graduating they would actively contribute to empowering the country’s agriculture sector.