Chandigarh, Dec 1 (PTI) Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh Saturday attacked the UPA government for ignoring farmers during its rule, and said it put the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission on the “back-burner”.
Singh asserted that the Narendra Modi government has taken a number of steps to boost farmers’ income.
The minister alleged that the previous Congress-led UPA government did not take any step to implement the recommendations made in the 2006 Swaminathan report regarding farmers.
“The previous government put it (Swaminathan Commission report) on back-burner,” he said, adding it is the Modi government which implemented the recommendations “in mission mode”.
“For increasing farmers income, Swaminathan had called for several recommendations like having a national agricultural market, he talked about soil health management, organic farming…all of which were put on back-burner.
“…Had the recommendations of Swaminathan been implemented ten years back, the condition of farmers would have been much better,” the minister said.
Singh was addressing the 13th edition of CII Agro Tech India-2018 here, a four-day biennial agro-technology and business fair, which was inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind.
The minister said that farmers welfare is a priority of the Modi government and steps has been taken to ensure they get adequate price for their produce.
The NDA government has paid attention to allied sectors like animal husbandry. It has also made positive efforts for the development of dairy, poultry, fisheries and other sectors to achieve the target of doubling farmers income by 2022, he said.
The government, in the last four-and-a-half years, has taken a number of steps for the growth of farmers and the overall agriculture sector, the minister noted.
Singh also highlighted that the government has announced e-NAM programme to electronically link all 545 wholesale mandies across the country, besides launching new crop insurance scheme, hiking minimum support prices, among others.
Punjab Governor and Chandigarh Administrator V P Singh Badnore, Haryana Governor Satyadev Narayan Arya, Haryana chief minister M L Khattar, Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, CII President Rakesh Bharti Mittal, were among others present on the occasion.
Badal said the food processing sector is going to act as a catalyst to ensure what the farmers are producing is now processed and preserved to ensure more food for more people.
“Industry plays a critical role in ensuring not just better prices, but also helping and enabling farmers to get know-how of technologies and better farming techniques,” she noted.
Badal said the food processing sector will also ensure that there is less wastage in our country.
“According to a study, in my ministry almost one lakh crore rupees worth of produce gets wasted every year due to poor harvesting, transportation and storage techniques. These are techniques we can imbibe and learn from countries who have progressed in this sector and in this industry can play a key role,” she said.
The minister also said the Ministry of Food Processing Industries is creating a financial institution that will cater exclusively to the credit and lending needs of the food processing sector.
“We have been working on creating a financial institution which will specially fund the food processing sector because this is a sector which is growing at such a fast pace.
“Out of the 600 billion dollar retail sector that we have in India, 70 per cent of it is food retail, which is set to treble by 2020 and demand for food is going to go up by 50 per cent over the next five years. So, when there is a growth like that, we need an institution which caters to food processing sector which normal banks find it very risky sector and do not fund it the way funds are required for this sector,” Badal said.
She also talked about a new scheme, which is going to be funded by the World Bank.
This scheme will fund farmers for projects up to Rs 10 lakh.
“We have sanctioned Rs 3,000 crore, which is specially going to be for the small players, up to a limit of Rs 10 lakh and that I think (it) is going to transform at the ground level what is going to happen in the food processing sector,” she said.
The food processing minister called upon governments of Punjab and Haryana, the states which are food bowls of the nation, to encourage farmers to attend fairs such as Agro-Tech by giving them concessional fares on public transport, saying they can learn a lot in these events and then transform things on the ground.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.