Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday urged the State governments to give priority to agriculture even as he pledged to “double the income of farmers” by 2022, to mark India’s 75 years of independence.
To attain that goal, Mr. Modi said the Centre had adopted a scientific approach to farming and urged farmers to utilise the various agricultural initiatives introduced by his government.
“Today, the farmer is facing numerous challenges. The family size is increasing and land is being divided into smaller units. The share of each family member is shrinking. The farmer is wondering if in future he will have enough land to divide further...but these challenges can be transformed into opportunities,” Mr. Modi said at a Kisan Kalyan rally in Bareilly.
Fleshing out a formula for productive agriculture, Mr. Modi stressed the need to divide farming practices into three sectors, traditional farming, tree or timber plantation (along the periphery and borders of fields) and livestock rearing.
“We have to import large quantities of timber each year. If farmers plant timber on the outer edges of their fields, in 15-20 years they will see results. You can sell a tree and use the amount to get your daughters married,” Mr. Modi said.
Mr. Modi said that whenever States had taken interest in agriculture, an unprecedented growth was achieved.
The Prime Minister praised the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led government for its irrigation and farming schemes for the turnaround in the agriculture sector.
Stating that farmers could no longer sustain their families through farming alone, and were now sending their children to work in cities, Mr. Modi said to ensure the economic growth of the country, focus needed to be given to all “three pillars,” agriculture, manufacturing and service sectors. He saw tourism as an avenue for jobs in rural areas.
Listing the Centre’s steps to get better prices for farmers, Mr. Modi hit out at the State governments for misusing funds allocated for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
He appealed to the States to use MGNREGS funds to support agriculture.