‘Saved from starvation’: MP minister hails farmers during Covid-19 pandemic
Agriculture minister Kamal Patel, who completed a month in office on Thursday, said the state is focusing on the agri-sector to generate revenue and jobs.Updated: May 21, 2020 17:30 IST
The Madhya Pradesh government said initiatives such as the amendment to the Madhya Pradesh Krishi Upaj Mandi Act will help blunt the economic slump caused by the corona pandemic as it will empower the farmers and cut their dependence on middle men to get fair price for the produce.
Agriculture minister Kamal Patel, who completed a month in office on Thursday, said the state is focusing on the agri-sector to generate revenue and jobs.
“A lot of people think it is udyog (industry) that keeps the economy afloat, but this pandemic has proved that it is the farmers who have saved us from starvation and the sector has generated jobs,” he said.
Even as the government faced criticism for bringing an ordinance to do away with labour laws for the first thousand days to attract new investors, Patel said the government wants to empower the farmers and weed out middlemen.
“The decision to set up agriculture marketing yards and letting farmers sell their produce from their farms will change the lot of the farmers. They will no longer be at the mercy of middlemen who made profits while the farmers took home a pittance,” he said.
Even as farmers’ groups associated with the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh complained of having to sell their produce at much lower rates and tonnes of milk being discarded in the absence of demand, Patel said the Mandi act amendment will boost income since the farmers now have the option of selling their produce at higher rates.
“Farmers can even set up their own private mandis, warehouses and cold storages. With one licence they will be able to sell wherever they want. We have also bought milk from the farmers and made powder worth crores that will be sold once all restrictions are lifted,” the minister said.
To a question on whether the government has addressed concerns of farmers who were opposed to the limits set for the purchase at mandis, he said efforts are underway to see that the interest of the farmers with smaller holdings are as protected as those of bigger farmers.
He also ruled out that the agri-sector will face labour shortage as migrant workers from UP, Bihar and Jharkhand are heading back to their native places.