Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar virtually inaugurated a conference, ‘Getting Agricultural Markets Right’, jointly organised in New Delhi by Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) and National Stock Exchange (NSE) today. Addressing from Gwalior, Tomar said that as a result of the hard work of farmer brothers and sisters and farmer-friendly policies of the government, today India stands among the top two producers in the world in terms of most agricultural products. He said that India’s organic products are in demand across the world and despite the adverse conditions like corona pandemic, agricultural exports from India touching Rs. 3.75 lakh crores is a good sign. In such a scenario, we must sustain the quality of our agricultural products and ensure it meets the global standards.
“Our agriculture sector is very strong, which stands tall even in adverse conditions. Recently, even during the Covid crisis, when the whole world had almost come to a standstill, then despite the lockdown, all agricultural activities like sowing, harvesting, marketing and all agricultural activities continued uninterrupted. Indian agriculture sector is vast and a majority of our population depends on agriculture, so necessary changes have been made by the government for its progress and scholars also keep supporting the government through their suggestions, all of which will benefit the agriculture sector. One thousand mandis across the country have been linked with the e-National Agricultural Market (e-NAM) and the process is on to connect the remaining mandis. Efforts have been made by the Central government to enable farmers to get remunerative prices for their produce and to adopt technology in agriculture,” he said.
The agriculture minister said that the work of setting up 10,000 farmer producer organisations (FPOs) has started in the country with an expenditure of Rs 6,865 crore.
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“FPOs constitute about 85 per cent of small farmers in the country. Under the umbrella of the FPOs, the farmers gain by expanding their area of cultivation resulting in higher volumes of production, they also get better quality seeds and fertilisers and can avail of convenient loans, all of which will increase the overall income of farmers and improve farming. The government has arranged custom hiring centres (for farm machinery) at various places and farmers are also being given subsidies for agricultural implements. Earlier, the doors of private investment in the agriculture sector were often closed, but now efforts are being made to bring facilities like warehouses, cold storages and packaging machines to the villages, for which the Centre has earmarked a special package worth Rupees 1.5 lakh crore in agriculture and allied sectors. Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) has been set up with an investment of more than Rs. 100,000, out of which loans worth about Rs. 9500 crores have been approved for about 13,000 projects so far, which will greatly benefit the farmers,” the minister said.
Tomar called upon the farmers to adopt organic and natural farming and its quality should benefit the consumers. He said that the Central government is also focusing on the promotion of animal husbandry, based on the principle of complementarity with agriculture. The agriculture minister said that the Government has announced a policy to promote the use of drones and the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has issued an SoP in this regard.
“As the use of drones increases, it will not only benefit the farming, but it will also help avert the chemical side effects on farmers’ health and create new employment opportunities. The government has launched several schemes for the benefit of farmers and they are being disbursed easy loans at low-interest rates, the total amount of which is about Rs. 16 lakh crores at present. Similarly, under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), the claim amount totalling Rs 1.15 lakh crore so far has been given to the farmers as compensation for the loss of their crops. It is our endeavour that the productivity of farmers should increase, for this the government is taking continuous steps,” he said.
Tomar expressed confidence that the best proposals would come out of the deliberations during the conference ‘Getting Agricultural Markets Right’ which would guide the formulation of better policies. ICRIER Chairman, Pramod Bhasin and NSE Managing Director and CEO, Vikram Limaye also addressed the conference. ICRIER Chair of Agriculture, Professor, Ashok Gulati proposed the vote of thanks. NSE Director and Chief Executive Dr. Deepak Mishra; NITI Aayog member Prof. Ramesh Chand were among the panellists and experts present at the conference.