Farmers and the farm sector need to be strong to lay a strong foundation of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday. Speaking at the 69th edition of the ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme, he emphasised that the country’s agriculture sector has recently unshackled itself, in a reference to the farm bills passed recently by Parliament.
“One who is grounded stays firm even during the biggest storms. During these tough times of corona, our farm sector, our farmers are a living example of this. Even during this crisis, our agricultural sector has again shown its prowess. Our farmers, farm sector, villages, are the foundation of Aatmanirbhar Bharat. If they are strong, the foundation of Aatmanirbhar Bharat will be strong,” PM Modi said.
“In recent times, these sectors have freed themselves from many shackles, attempts were made to bust many myths,” he added.
The PM said that he has received letters from many farmers, and their organisations, which reveal the changes made in the agriculture sector in recent times.
Taking the example of a farmer from Haryana, Kanwar Chauhan from Sonipat district, the Prime Minister said, “He (Chauhan) recalled the problems he faced in selling produce outside the mandis. Many times, if he would sell his produce outside the mandis his vehicle, along with produce would be seized. But in 2014, fruits and vegetables were brought out of the APMC Act. He and his fellow farmers benefitted hugely from this.” Chauhan, then set up a farmers’ produce organisation four years ago, Prime Minister Modi said.
“Today farmers of his village are growing sweetcorn and baby corn. Their produce is directly being sold at Delhi’s Azadpur Mandi, five-star hotels, and in big retail chains. Today the farmers of the village are earning Rs 2.5-3 lakhs per acre by farming sweet and baby corn. Apart from this, 60 farmers from the same village are also earning up to Rs 10-12 lakhs per annum by growing varieties of tomato, capsicum, using net house, and poly house,” the Prime Minister added.
“They have the power to sell their fruits or vegetables to anyone, and anywhere. It is this power which is the foundation of their growth, now the same power has been given to farmers across the country. They have got the freedom to sell not only fruits and vegetables but grains, sugarcane, mustard and anything that they grow, they can now sell to anyone and anywhere they like,” he said. The PM also highlighted an example of the Shri Swami Samarth Farmer Producers Limited in Maharashtra, which is a farmers association running its own weekly markets. According to the Prime Minister, the produce of thousands of farmers from 70 villagers is sold at these markets by the farmers themselves. PM Modi said that fruits and vegetables were taken out of the ambit of the APMC Act in Maharashtra, three to four years back, as an example of how such changes can bring a turnaround in the fortunes of farmers. He also cited examples from Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh to show how cutting out the middlemen would greatly benefit both the farmers and the consumers.
The case of Ismail, a farmer who used modern technology in Rampura village, Banaskantha district of Gujarat to produce high-quality potatoes, which today are being supplied directly to big companies, without any middlemen. He also praised Ismail, for helping the other farmers in the area.
“In today’s age, farming will grow as much as we provide new options. There will be new methods and innovations in it. Manipur’s Vijay Shanti has is in the news for new innovation, she began a start-up to produce threads from lotus stem. Due to her innovation, there is a new avenue in lotus farming and textile,” he added. ‘Mann ki Baat’ is a radio programme, aired on All India Radio on the last Sunday of every month, through which the Prime Minister interacts with the nation.
With ANI inputs