Our PM will leave no stone unturned for farmers’ welfare”
Mr Radha Mohan Singh Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare
Agriculture has traditionally been a heavyweight portfolio in the Government of India. Given that about half of India’s work force of 500 million is engaged in agriculture, and that 58 per cent of rural households depend on it for principal means of sustenance, the direct connect of this sector to India’s growth and prosperity cannot be overemphasized. The NDA Government has, in fact, renamed the Ministry, now calling it the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. Heading it presently is Mr Radha Mohan Singh, 65, a fifth-term Member of Lok Sabha from what is now the East Champaran constituency. He spoke with India Empire’s Editor and Publisher Sayantan Chakravarty at his office in Krishi Bhavan, New Delhi
While industrial development of India is important, agricultural growth is vital for food security. What is your vision for making India’s farmers prosperous?
The Government of India is keen on development of rain-fed agriculture and promotion of integrated farming. We now have the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) in place, following approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by our Hon’ble Prime Minister in July 2015. The objective of this important irrigation project is that every farm should have water—Har Khet Ko Pani. We also are geared towards improving efficiency in usage of water, and want “More Crop Per Drop”. This is not mere rhetoric. Our focused approach led by the vision of our tirelessly striving PM means that we are finding end-to-end solution for the farmer. This involves source creation, distribution, management, field application and extension activities.
The big challenge before us is to ensure that the production costs of farmers are reduced, and he gets proper marketing opportunity for his produce. Leaving aside 3-4 states in India, we find that in the rest of the states In India about 80 per cent fields do not get water. We have immediate plans to bring in 28,00,000 hectares under irrigation. This involves a coordinated and concerted effort among three major stakeholders, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Rural Development and Ministry of Water Resources. We plan to cover 150 districts in the country by end of March 2016, and the rest by September end. Overall, we’d like to bring in 80,00,000 hectares under irrigation at a cost of Rs 66,000 crore. In this budget, through NABARD, a corpus fund of Rs 20,000 crore has been created for irrigation. We also have plans to hand out Soil Health Cards to 140 million farmers by March 2017, and keep updating it every two years. These cards will help the farmer identify the diseases that can affect his soil and crops, what kind of treatment they require, what kind of fertilizers must be used.