Minister of State, Parliamentary Affairs & Culture Arjun Ram Meghwal said that weather and market access are two vital areas that need the special attention of every stakeholder. He was speaking at a FICCI seminar on Consumer Awareness “Jaago Kisan Jaago” on World Consumer Rights Day.
Speaking on occasion, Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare Kailash Choudhary emphasised the need to connect farming with new technology.
He added that farmers need ‘better seeds, lower cost of production, storage and market access.
Alluding to the efforts taken by the government for the farm sector, the minister pointed to the increase in the agriculture budget to around 132,000 crores now, neem coated urea, nano fertiliser, the launch of the eNAM portal, among others.
The minister also said that 10,000 FPOs are being formed countrywide to aid farmer groups jointly undertake several post-production activities. “4000 FPOs are already set up,” he said and added, “Every block will have one FPO.”
RG Agarwal, Chair of the FICCI Committee on Crop Protection and Chairman, Dhanuka Group, said that the biggest questions we have ahead of us are the rising population and reducing land availability for farming.
“We need precision agriculture today,” he said and pointed to the need for sensitising farmers to new technology and innovation. “Farmers need knowledge more than subsidy today,” he added.
Agarwal also spoke about the increasing importance of pesticides and other plant protection equipment in farming and the need for genuine bio-stimulants. He alluded to several spurious bio-stimulants in the country harming the farmers.
Talking about the need for plant protection, Dr. P.K. Chakrabarty, Member, ASRB, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, and Former ADG (PP), ICAR, said that 20-40% of production is lost due to improper or no plant protection. He said that this amounts to 90,000 to 100,000 crores in value terms. “If we avoid this loss, we will save an amount almost equal to our agriculture budget,” he said.
Dr. Chakrabarty also stated that India is the fifth largest seed market globally on the back of 49 crop research institutes of ICAR, 45 all-India coordinated projects, 77 State agriculture universities and a robust partnership with the private sector.
Speaking on the need for creating awareness among farmers, Dr. A.K. Singh, Deputy Director General (Horticultural Science), DARE – Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India, underscored various tech-led initiatives that the government has taken in reaching out to farmers.
He said that more than five crore farmers are registered on the mKisan portal and receive regular updates and Kisan call centres address 20,000 calls every day.
Alluding to the 100 Made in India drones that Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched, Dr Singh said, “Within the 15 days of the launch, drone demonstrations and trainings were conducted in 287 districts across the country.”