Addressing stakeholders of agriculture, dairy and fisheries from both public and private sectors (including cooperatives) at a webinar on Budget provisions related to this segment of the economy, Modi said: “Today, it is the need of the hour that the farmer’s produce in the country gets more and more options in the market."
The Health Ministry will now have to tweak some changes in its software and bring a filter to mask PM Modi's image from the Coronavirus certificates.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday stressed that new laws governing agriculture marketing would enable farmers to access more avenues to sell their crops, and said that time was ripe for a food processing revolution. Stressing the need to make the country’s agriculture sector globally competitive, he said farmers would be able to realise better prices from global market for processed food.
Modi said there was a need for greater private sector participation in agriculture research and development.
Addressing stakeholders of agriculture, dairy and fisheries from both public and private sectors (including cooperatives) at a webinar on Budget provisions related to this segment of the economy, Modi said: “Today, it is the need of the hour that the farmer’s produce in the country gets more and more options in the market. The country is experiencing the loss it has incurred from limiting the farmers only to the produce. We must expand the country’s agriculture sector into a global market for processed food.”
The prime minister also said that farmers have to be given alternatives so that they do not limit their scope to grow only wheat and paddy. “We can experiment with growing organic food to those vegetables used in salad preparations,” Modi said exhorting agriculture scientists to work on this area. He suggested tapping new global markets for exporting millets, which are increasingly preferred as immunity booster cereals following the Covid-19 pandemic.
As India’s agriculture research is dominated by public sector institutes led by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Modi said that there is need to increase private sector participation. “When it comes to R&D, I am not talking only about developing seeds, but to scientifically develop whole eco-system related to a crop. There is need for holistic approach, for the complete crop cycle,” Modi said.
In the FY22 Budget, the department of agricultural research and education has been allocated Rs 8,514 crore, up just 2% from BE of FY21. Not only that, nearly 70% of the allocation will go to run the ICAR and its affiliated institutes. Compared to this, global seed major Syngenta’s spend on R&D was said to be $918 million (Rs 6,755 crore) in 2019.
“There is need to improve domestic environment to help the private sector do research before asking for their participation,” said a seed industry official requesting anonymity. “When Monsanto released its GM cotton in India in 2002, it helped the country not only to become self-sufficient, but India became world’s largest exporter of cotton. After such achievement, suddenly, the government brought in price control 2-3 years back, did not approve commercial release of new seeds and Monsanto announced not to release any technology in India,” the industry official said.
On the contentious issue of contract farming (farmers have been campaigning against a new law, saying it could allow corporates to usurp their lands), Modi said that contract farming was being practiced in India in one form or the other for a long time now. “But the aim should be to try not just to make contract farming a business, but the stake-holders will have to fulfil the responsibility towards the land on which it is practised.”
Listing the Budget proposals related to the agriculture sector, he said the agriculture credit target has been increased to `16.50 lakh crore with priority to animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries sectors, Rural Infrastructure Fund to `40,000 crore (from `30,000 crore), micro irrigation fund doubled to Rs 10,000 crore, Operation Green scheme expanded to 22 perishable crops (from three crops) and target to link 1,000 more mandis with e-NAM (already 1,000 mandis connected). All these measures will help 12 crore small and marginal farmers, who are the driving force of the rural economy, he added.
Modi also took a dig at the previous governments, saying the food processing revolution should have been done two-three decades ago. “India of 21st century needs post-harvest or food processing revolution and value addition amid increasing agriculture production. It would have been good for the country had this been done 2-3 decades back,” Modi said.