Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that his government is promoting organic farming to protect farmers from the challenges of climate crisis through the fusion of two concepts — “back to basics” and “march towards the future” — with digital agriculture.
The government has made provisions to this effect in this year’s Budget, the PM said at an event to mark the golden jubilee celebrations of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) at Patancheru on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
Modi also inaugurated the institute’s Climate Change Research Facility on Plant Protection and Rapid Generation Advancement Facility.
Addressing the event, the Prime Minister said, “To save our farmers from climate challenge, our focus is on the fusion of both ‘Back to basics’ and ‘March to future’. We are focusing on more than 80% small farmers in the country who most need us. Digital agriculture is an important aspect of India’s changing landscape. The Union Budget 2022-23 is focused on natural farming and digital agriculture.”
“We are working towards higher agricultural growth, inclusive growth and conserving natural resources,” he said.
He said that the government is investing in modern technology to revolutionize farming. “We are allocating more funds for usage of drone technology in cultivation and also digitalisation of cultivable lands,” he said.
“Digital agriculture is gaining popularity and this is something we will also have to adopt in the times to come,” the Prime Minister said.
After 13 months of protests by peasants, Narendra Modi’s government in December 2021 cancelled three pieces agricultural legislation. The three laws were the cornerstone of the government’s reforms in the farm sector, which employs nearly half all Indians. The laws were scrapped to remove restrictions on farm trade and allow traders stockpile large amounts of farm produce for future trading. They also sought a national framework to support contract farming.
During his address on Saturday, the Prime Minister said that research facilities at ICRISAT are playing a key role in strengthening the agriculture sector as he launched a commemorative stamp issued to mark the institute’s golden jubilee.
He referred to India’s 15 Agro-Climatic Zones as well as six seasons. He said that India has a rich and varied history in relation to agricultural practices.
“India has diverse agro-climatic zones, many seasons, rich farming traditions and a zeal for innovation. This augurs well for the growth of the agriculture sector,” he said.
The Centre will be focusing on nutrition security as well as food security in the country, said the Prime Minister. He also stated that micro-irrigation facilities are being given a special focus. “With this vision, we have developed many bio-fortified varieties in the last seven years… We are providing nearly 170 districts with drought- proofing solutions across the country,” he said.
Prime Minister said that the green revolution’s fruits did not reach farmers across the country because of poor irrigation facilities. “In order to tackle this situation, the government has contemplated inter-linking of rivers so that farmers across the country get proper irrigation facilities.”
Modi called for an increase of the area under palm oil cultivation from 6.5 lakh hectares to 7.6 million. He said that the government would provide all assistance to farmers in order to expand their plantations. “We shall encourage the Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to increase the oil palm cultivation,” he said.
The Prime Minister also praised farmers in neighboring states for their holistic approach to promoting pulses and chickpea production in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and integrating farmers into their markets. “Your research and technology have helped making agriculture easy and sustainable,” Modi said.
The PM stated that the government is focusing its efforts on building FPOs and the agricultural value chain. “By organizing the small farmers of the country into thousands of FPOs, we want to make them aware of big market force,” added Prime Minister Modi.
Hailing ICRISAT’s efforts in strengthening India’s agriculture sector, Prime Minister said the institute has experience of five decades of helping other nations in making agriculture easy and sustainable. “Today, I am hopeful that they will continue to deliver their expertise to strengthen India’s ‘Krishi’ sector.”
Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundarrajan, Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Union tourism minister G Kishan Reddy and ICRISAT director-general Jacqueline d’Arros Hughes participated in the golden jubilee celebrations of the institute.
Later that day, the PM inaugurated a Statue of Equality measuring 216 feet tall to commemorate the 11th century Bhakti Saint Sri Ramanujacharya of Shamshabad.
The 216-feet tall Statue of Equality commemorates the 11th-century Bhakti Saint Sri Ramanujacharya, who promoted the idea of equality in all aspects of living including faith, caste, and creed, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.
(With agency inputs
ABOUT OUR AUTHOR
Srinivasa Rao, Senior Assistant Editor, is based in Hyderabad and covers developments in Andhra Pradesh as well as Telangana. He has more than three decades of experience in reporting.