Modi addresses webinar on Budget provisions for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare
New Delhi, March 1, 2021
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the Union Budget 2021-22 has taken several steps for the agriculture sector that included increasing the agriculture credit target to Rs 16,50,000 crores with priority to animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries sector.
Addressing a webinar on effective implementation of Budget provisions regarding Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare through video conference, Modi pointed out that among other steps, the Rural Infrastructure Fund was increased to Rs 40,000 crores, the allocation doubled for micro-irrigation, the scope of Operation Green Scheme expanded to include 22 perishable products and linking 1000 more mandis with e-NAM.
He stressed the need for a post-harvest revolution or food processing revolution and value addition amid the 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 added.
Several experts from the Agriculture, Dairy, Fisheries sectors, stakeholders from the Public, Private & Cooperative sector and representatives from Banks funding the rural economy participated in the webinar. Union Minister for Agriculture Narendra Tomar was also present.
The Prime Minister outlined the vision of the government that put small farmers in the centre. Empowerment of the small farmers will greatly help in ridding Indian agriculture of many problems., he added.
Modi emphasized the developing of processing in every agriculture-related sector such as food grains, vegetables, fruits and fisheries. For this, the farmers needed to have storage facilities near their villages. He called for the improvement of the system of taking the product from the fields to processing units with some hand-holding by the Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs).
He stressed 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 inhabitants could get employment related to farming in the village itself.”
Organic clusters and export clusters will also play a major role. “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 emphasized the need to explore ways to leverage the One District, One Product scheme to take agricultural products to the global markets.
The Prime Minister lamented that even though India was one of the world's major fish producers and exporters, its presence in processed fish in the international market was very limited. In addition to the reforms, the Government has announced production-linked incentives worth about Rs 11,000 crores to encourage products such as Ready to Eat, Ready to cook, processed fruits and vegetables, processed seafood and mozzarella cheese.
He referred to Operation Green under which a 50% subsidy was being given for the transportation of all fruits and vegetables. In the last six months alone, about 350 Kisan Rail service were operated and about 1,00,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables transported. The Kisan rail is a strong medium of cold storage for the entire country, he added.
The Prime Minister said under the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat campaign, emphasis was being given to creating clusters for fruits and vegetable processing in the districts across the country. Under the Prime Minister Micro Food Processing Enterprises Upgradation Scheme, millions of such units were being helped. He stressed the need for using modern technology to help the small farmers with cheap and effective options for hourly rental of tractors, straw machines or other farm machinery.
Truck aggregators could be used to provide a cheap and effective means for farm produce to reach the market. He stressed the need for extending the facility of Soil Health Card in the country. Increased awareness of the farmers about their soil’s health would improve the production of the crop.
He stressed the need for more private sector contribution towards R&D in the agriculture sector. “We now have to give such options to farmers in which they are not limited to growing wheat and rice. We can try organic food to salad-related vegetables,” he noted. The market for seaweed and beeswax could be tapped to generate an additional revenue stream for the fishermen and apiarists. He added increased private sector participation will boost the confidence of the farmer.
He noted that contract farming has been present in India in some form or the other for a very long time. He stressed the need to ensure that contract farming does not remain just a business concept but should also fulfil responsibility towards the land.
The Prime Minister called for concerted efforts to find a comprehensive technological solution from irrigation to sowing, till harvesting and earning.
“We have to promote startups associated with the agriculture sector and connect the youth. Over the years, the Kisan Credit Card has been extended little by little to farmers, cattle ranchers and fishermen and more than 1.80 crore farmers have been given Kisan Credit Cards in the last one year. The provision of credit has also been more than doubled compared to 6-7 years ago. Arrangements with 10,00 FPOs being built in the country were strengthening the Cooperatives,"he added.