New Delhi, March 1: Amid ongoing farmers' protest against three farms laws, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asserted that the Central government's vision is to empower small farmers and expand the options for them to sell their produce.
Outlining the Central government's vision for small farmers, the Prime Minister said the "empowerment of these small farmers will greatly help in ridding Indian agriculture from many problems".
Modi's message comes at a time when thousands of farmers are sitting on indefinite agitation at Delhi borders seeking withdrawal of three laws. The protest that started on November 26 last year, entered 96th day on Monday.
Addressing a webinar on effective implementation of Budget provisions regarding Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare through video conference, Modi highlighted some of the provisions for Agriculture in the Union Budget like increasing the Agriculture Credit target to Rs 16,50,000 crore with priority to Animal husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries sector and increasing Rural Infrastructure Fund to Rs 40,000 crore.
He said that the budget has provisions of doubling the allocation for micro irrigation, expanding the scope of Operation Green Scheme to 22 perishable products and linking 1,000 more mandis with e-NAM -- an online trading platform for agricultural commodities in India which facilitates farmers, traders and buyers with online trading in commodities.
The Prime Minister stressed India's need for Post-Harvest Revolution or Food Processing Revolution and Value Addition in the 21st century, amidst ever-increasing agricultural production.
"It would have been very good for the country if this work would have been done two-three decades ago," the Prime Minister commented.
The Prime Minister strongly emphasized on developing processing in every agriculture related sector such as food grains, vegetables, fruits, fisheries.
He said, for this, it is critical that farmers should have the storage facilities near their villages and called for the improvement of the system of taking the produce from the fields to processing units and emphasized that hand holding of these units be done by the Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs).
He stressed on the need for expanding the options for the country's farmers to sell their produce.
"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 the village so that the people of the village can get employment related to farming in the village itself," said the Prime Minister.
Giving example of Organic Clusters and Export clusters, the senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said that such kind of clusters will play a major role in providing employment to people in villages.
He envisioned that "we have to move towards a scenario where agro based products move from the village to the cities and industrial products reach villages from cities".
Experts from Agriculture, Dairy, Fisheries sector; stakeholders from Public, Private and Cooperative sector and Representatives from Banks funding the rural economy participated in the event. Union Minister for Agriculture was present in the webinar.