Agriculture Development & Farmer’s Welfare Is Our Priority: Agri Minister
Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister Shri Radha Mohan Singh, while addressing the conference of Vice Chancellors of State Agriculture Universities and Directors of ICAR institutes in Pusa, New Delhi, said that in the “Sabka Sath – Sabka Vikas” mantra of Hon’ble Prime Minister, Farmers’ Welfare is an integral part of New India. Under this, a number of strategic initiatives have been taken to accelerate the progress of agriculture and to transform the farm sector. In this direction, various initiatives have been taken by the Agriculture Universities and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
As of now, around 2.25% of the total Union Budget is dedicated to agriculture. This year, considering the interim budget, this figure is expected to grow, this is one of the major expert opinion focused on agriculture.
He said that in the last four and half years, the ICAR has supplemented the Government’s “Soil Health Card” initiative and has developed a mini Lab “Mridaparikshak” for soil testing. For problems related to climate change, 45 Integrated Farming System Models (IFS) have been created by including all the 15 agro-climatic regions to benefit small and marginal farmers.
Shri Singh said that with the efforts of Modi government, for the first time, on the lines of ICAR’s leading institute IARI-Pusa, IARI-Assam is being established and IARI-Jharkhand has been established. An Administrative block in IARI-Jharkhand was recently inaugurated. At the same time, 6 new colleges have been opened under Central Agricultural University (CAU), Imphal and Indian Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology (IIAB) has been established in Ranchi, Jharkhand.
He informed that various policy initiatives taken by the government in the last four and a half years have resulted in record production of food grains and horticulture crops in the country in the current year. The food grain production rose by 7.5% to 284.83 million tonnes in 2017-18 from 265.04 million tonnes in 2013-14. In 2017-18, pulse production stood at 25.23 million tonnes, which is close to the self-dependency mark. As a result, its import fell to 5.65 lakh tonnes in 2017-18 from 10 lakh tonnes in 2016-17, thereby saving Rs 9775 crore in foreign exchange. The first advance estimates of 2018-19 pegs horticulture production at 314.67 million tonne against 311.7 million tonne in 2017-18.
Shri Singh said with an aim to make rapid progress in agricultural science, the ICAR has taken initiatives in the use of space technology. World over, digital and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are playing an important role in agricultural research and value addition.
For the advancement of agriculture, Agriculture universities and ICAR have readily adopted e-mode of payments. Farmers have access to Kisan Portal, Mobile-based farmer advisory-KMA SMS portal, toll free helpline, data centre and mobile app for various breeds. Pusa Agriculture – technology mobile app, PulseExpert mobile app for pulse crops has been released.
A new program ‘Mera Gaon – Mera Gaurav’ was initiated by Hon’ble Prime Minister to establish the reach of science to the farmers. Under this program, 5 villages are adopted by a group of 4 scientists and farmers are provided with agricultural advice and information. He said that Modi Government has further strengthened the Lab to Land program in order to make research and techniques accessible at farmers’ field and it is also being implemented at the level of Lab to Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurs to Farmers. In order to increase employment opportunities in agriculture, ICAR has been supporting more than 150 Agri Start-Ups and these start-ups are progressing successfully.
While expressing happiness and gratitude, he said for the second year in a row, ICAR’s tableau was included in Republic Day Parade. In fact, this year, the “Kisan Gandhi-2019” tableau was awarded the first prize by Defense Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman.
The Minister called for better synergy between education and research in our endeavour towards nation building. With combined efforts, the betterment of agriculture in the country will pave the way for the betterment of the farmers and their income will be doubled.