New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the income of farmers in the country increased, and also doubled in many cases, due to various initiatives taken by the central government.
During his interaction with select farmers from the various parts of the country through the ‘Narendra Modi App’, Modi asked them about their success stories in which they had managed to increase both production and income through innovative ways.
“We are working towards ensuring that the income of our hardworking farmers doubles by 2022. For that, we are facilitating proper assistance wherever required… We have ensured facilities such as soil health card, good quality seeds, fertilisers besides electricity [and] water and markets,” he said.
Referring to the criticism to the initiative, Modi said: “They criticised it saying it is not possible or very difficult. They created the atmosphere of hopelessness. But we have faith in the farmers. We are ready to take risks and bring results.”
Modi interacted with several farmers from nine states — Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Odisha, Rajasthan, Sikkim, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.
He expressed his happiness when one farmer from Chhattisgarh told him that his income had increased six-seven times in just three years.
Modi told the farmers how the government’s initiatives such as crop insurance, soil health cards, micro irrigation, electronic national agriculture market (e-NAM), farm mechanisation, financial assistance, and the formation of farmer producer companies had helped in increasing their incomes.
Modi’s outreach to farmers comes at time when major parts of the country are witnessing farm distress due to the heavy slump in crop prices and upcoming elections in crucial states by end of this year, as well as the general election scheduled for sometime mid-next year.
The prime minister said his government focused on four major points to achieve the target of doubling farm incomes.
“First, we are trying to bring down the input cost as much as possible. Second, farmers should get remunerative prices. Third is how to minimise wastage. And the fourth is to offer alternative sources of income,” Modi said.
Modi said the previous government had allotted Rs1.21 trillion (Dh65.12 billion) for the agriculture sector in the budget but his government had nearly doubled it to Rs2.12 trillion.
He said the government had ensured remunerative prices to farmers by announcing the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for notified crops in the Union Budget.
“The input cost for the MSP will include family labour, expenses on cattle, machines, seeds, fertilisers, irrigation along with land revenue by the state governments, rent for the land on lease and interest on working capital,” said Modi.
The prime minister also said foodgrain output had gone up to over 280 million tonnes in 2017-18, from an average of 250 million tonnes in the 2010-2014 period.
He also said average production of pulses had increased by 10.5 per cent, while it was 15 per cent for horticulture and 26 per cent for the fishery sector.
He also called for thrust on apiaries for honey bees and the cultivation of ornamental fish in the wake of growing global demand.
Modi also said the government was taking measures and tabling policies to connect local and wholesale markets each other in order to dislodge middlemen and ensure the best prices for farmers.