Contract farming will increase farm incomes, says PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday called for the modernisation of the country’s agriculture sector with private investments and start-ups, the adoption of contract farming, and higher food processing to tap global markets.
The Prime Minister, speaking at a national webinar on provisions of the Budget for the farm sector, said the “vision of the government” had small farmers, who make up 86% of total cultivators in the country, at the centre of policymaking.
Modi stressed that contract farming would enhance farm incomes. “Contract farming has been present in India in some form or the other for a very long time,” he said, adding there was a need to ensure that contract farming did not remain just a business concept.
Tens of thousands of farmers, especially in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, are protesting a set of laws of approved by Parliament last year to deregulate the farm sector, including a law on contract farming. The farmers are demanding a repeal of the laws.
“We have to expand our country’s agriculture sector into the global market for processed food. We must increase the number of agro-industries clusters near villages so that the residents can be employed in farming in the village itself,” Modi said.
The webinar, which was attended by agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, focussed on effective implementation of budgetary allocations with regard to the agriculture and farmers’ welfare ministry, an official statement said.
The Prime Minister spoke to several participants and experts from the agriculture, dairy, and fisheries sectors, apart from representatives from public, private and co-operative sectors. Representatives from banks funding the rural economy also took part in the webinar.
Modi said the recent Union Budget had increased the agricultural credit target to ₹16,50,000 crore with priority to animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries. The budget had increased the rural infrastructure fund to ₹40,000 crore and doubled the allocation for micro irrigation, while expanding the scope of Operation Green Scheme to 22 perishable products, he said.
There is an urgent need for “post-harvest revolution or a food processing revolution” amid the ever-increasing agricultural production, he said.
“It would have been very good for the country if this work had been done two-three decades ago,” he said.
The Prime Minister said despite India being one of the world’s major fish producers and exporters, the country’s presence in the processed fish sector in the international market was negligible.
To boost processing, the government had announced production-linked incentives worth ₹11,000 crore to encourage products that were ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook, processed fruits and vegetables, processed sea food and mozzarella cheese in November last year..