The government is taking concrete steps to increase farm productivity and increase farmers' income in order to remove debt problems of farmers, union minister of agriculture and farmers welfare Radha Mohan Singh said.
Speaking at the Kharif Conference being held at NASC-ICAR Institute Pusa, New Delhi, he said, the government has increased agricultural credit target to Rs9,00,000 crore for the year 2016-17 from 8,50,000 crore in 2015-16.
He said the government is taking long-term measures to remove the problem of indebtedness of farmers. The minister said it is for the first time that representatives of agriculture and related sectors have been invited for the conference.
He said the government aims to double farmers income in the next five years as is announced in the budget 2016-17, adding that the prime minister has suggested a 7-point plan to achieve the target. These include:
Increasing production: The government has increased budgetary provision in irrigation sector. Government also aims at 'more crop per drop'. The policy is focused on water preservation and irrigation. Government is also working hard to increase the productions of other crops alongwith paddy and oilseeds.
More income at lower input: To get higher productivity from the seeds when it gets right amount of nutrients from the soil. Soil health card scheme can help in this regard. We are providing useful information to the farmers. In this programme, farmers will invest less and get more. It is necessary to regularise the cost of farming and to maintain the productivity of crops. Soil health promotion programme has been initiated for the preservation of soil health.
Government has decided last year to produce only neem coated urea so that plants get nutrients easily. Besides the government is providing Rs20,000 per acre to farmers to encourage them to adopt to organic farming.
Reducing their marketing expenditure: A national agriculture market is being set up for electronic trading. In this programme, 585 agriculture mandis of India will be connected to each other. Farmers will get maximum price of their crops and the interference of mediators will be reduced to a greater extent. Direct foreign investment is also being encouraged in this field.
Agriculture risk security: Under Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana, the farmers will be benefited on account of natural calamities like storms, earthquake and cyclone etc.
Reduce post-production losses: The central government has promoted region based strategy according to the climatic diversity of every state and region by implementing unified Horticulture Development Mission so as to develop horticulture sector as a whole. Under this mission, the government aims to promote technical setup, extend the area under horticulture crops, improve post-harvest management, processing and marketing etc. (India ranks second on global scenario in horticultural crops after China).
Value addition: Government is promoting processed food industry so as to make value addition in agricultural products. Besides, the government is also chalking out programmes through different schemes to increase the production of fruits and vegetables and its processing with assistance of the ministry of food processing industry. The government aims to increase processing of fruits to 25 per cent by 2025 against 10 per cent at present.
Auxiliary activities: Under the prime minister's vision, farmers' income will be supplemented partly through livestock, dairy, poultry, bee keeping, agriculture ponds and fisheries. Simultaneously, efforts are being made to increase the income of farmers by planting trees in fields and installing solar panels there.
Singh informed that to increase availability of seeds in north east states, the National Seeds Corporation had asked the governments of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar to provide land to establish production centres. The minister also said that to establish an institution like Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Bhopal, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bihar were requested to provide land. Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh have given land and it is hoped that Bihar will provide the land for the same.
Singh observed that in spite of a severe loss to crops owing to unseasonal rains, hailstorm and other natural calamities, foodgrain production in the country is expected to increase to 253.16 million tonnes on 2015-16 (as per the advanced estimates), against 252.02 million tonnes in 2014-15.
The minister called for the participation of all concerned, particularly states, to work for the welfare of farmers.