Govt support to J&K farmers producing saffron, walnuts, peaches: Sitharaman
The finance minister said the government is encouraging farmers to produce oilseeds in place of other crops to reduce India’s import dependency, particularly imports of edible oil such as palm oil.Updated: Nov 12, 2019 21:46 IST
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said after the successful procurement of apples from Jammu and Kashmir this season, the Centre would extend a similar support to farmers of the union territory for the sale of saffron, walnuts, peaches and other agricultural produce.
“We [have] procured apples from J&K this time so that there was not one farmer left without his apple being sold,” she said referring to the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India’s (NAFED) move to buy apples of J&K offering higher rates to the farmers. Sitharaman was speaking at the 6th World Congress on Rural and Agricultural Finance, organised by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) in New Delhi.
The finance minister directed NABARD to take up immediate and necessary steps to extend support to the farmers of J&K. “I have requested chairman of NABARD [Harsh Kumar Bhanwala] to visit J&K, so that NABARD can support the farmers there,” Sitharaman said. She also asked the development finance institution to promote solar energy in Ladakh.
The government will form 10,000 farmer producer organisations (FPOs) so that the agriculturalists can get the correct price for their produce and also credit and other assistance from the government can be extended to them through that channel, she said.
The finance minister said the government is encouraging farmers to produce oilseeds in place of other crops to reduce India’s import dependency, particularly imports of edible oil such as palm oil.
She said the Centre is making efforts to promote sustainable and renewable energy sources in rural areas, which can be an additional source of income for the farmers.
“I want ‘anna datta’ to be ‘urja datta’ also. We are working in a direction where we can install solar panels, turbines etc so that farmers can generate power on those pieces of land where they are unable to grow the produce,” she said.
Sitharaman said the government has been focusing on the priorities of fishermen in the coastal and inland water areas. “NABARD can focus on marketing of nutrients in the coastal areas. It can work with the FPOs [farmer producer organisations] and SHGs [self-help groups] in these areas to help increase nutritional input of the area, which could be well-received in the wellness industry,” she said.
Speaking at the congress, Bhanwala said India provides $200 billion agriculture credit every year to small and marginal farmers. “This will be enhanced once the formation of 10,000 FPOs, as announced in this year’s Budget, will be functional,” he said.
The two-day event is attended by representatives of banks and financial institutions from over 40 countries, including China, Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.