Indian farmers will soon see their income double, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi who addressed a national conference in New Delhi on Tuesday. The conference titled, “Agriculture 2022: Doubling Farmers’ Income” shed light on ways the government would bring about reforms that would make agriculture workers’ lives better. Presentations pertaining to these reforms were made by various groups. These focused on governance and policy reforms, methods to make service delivery efficient, allocation of institutional credit and capital investment for farmers, Agri trade policy, supply chain management, and how promotion of poultry, livestock, dairy, horticulture, and fisheries could serve as engines for country’s progress.

Funds for Agri

The 2018 budget was farmer-centric and showed a significant increase in allocation of funds for agriculture. A sum of nearly 58 crore has been allotted for the agri industry. Radha Mohan Singh, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare minister, highlighted the allocation of Rs 2,000 cr set for “Agri Market Development Fund.” These funds will be used to build and improve the infrastructure of rural bodies in the villages, he said. Minister Radha Mohan Singh also pointed out the challenges faced by farmers in remote areas. He explained that the government is keen on adding decent infrastructure in these areas and added that Modi’s government is also working towards building a “climate-smart agriculture.” Efforts are being made to educate farmers on adopting climate-friendly farming techniques, he said.

In 2016, a committee was formed under Prime Minister Modi to implement and execute a plan to empower farmers financially. The committee comprised experts from all areas of agriculture, including ones from dairy, food processing, animal husbandry, alongside renowned economists. The focus of the committee was to dole out farmer-friendly policies and create programs that are income-centric rather than production-centric.

The Prime Minister, in 2016, had also laid out a seven-point agri strategy that focuses on high quality seeds, better irrigation practices, methods to reduce losses.

New approaches

Lauding the efforts of Indian farmers, Modi explained that the government is adopting innovative approaches to increase and improve farmers’ income.

He congratulated the agriculture community for increase in the production and cultivation of pulses. If farmers need to be empowered, four aspects need to be considered: Reduction of input costs, fair price for crops and produce, reduction of wastage, and focus on other sources of occupation and thereby increase income. Modi stated that 100% neem coating in urea has increased efficiency of urea itself, and at the same time, hiked productivity. The Prime Minister pointed to a study, which proved that benefits of using “soil health cards.” These cards have led to increased production, while reducing the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

The Prime Minister added that the central government is on the verge of completing 99 irrigation projects, which were left incomplete.

By this year, about fifty of these irrigation projects will be complete, he said. The irrigation projects will help reduce the inputs cost for farmers.

Under the farmers’ scheme, “Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, about 20 hectares have been brought under micro-irrigation. Modi said that programs like “Operation Greens” aims to benefit farmers who cultivate onions, potatoes, and tomatoes. Modi stated that 22,000 “Grameen Haats” will be updated and upgraded with high-tech infrastructure and would be integrated with e-NAM (National Agricultural Markets and e-platforms).

Modi also pointed out that the country is now focused on turning agriculture waste into wealth. He stated that finance and loan options for farmers have been relaxed. Farmers will now have easy accessibility to credit, he said.

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