On June 8th, 2016, I sat through an online interview of the Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmer?s Welfare, Shri Radha Mohan Singh, on Transforming India?.it was aired live on the Government of India website. Some of the specific policy areas discussed, I believe will surely be of interest to many agriculture enthusiasts, and hence I felt the need to pen some of the important discussion points for everyone?s reference?
During the interview, Shri Singh shared how his government has enabled positive changes in agriculture through consistent policies, upscaling investments and building infrastructure. This surely reflects in the budget allocations for agriculture and farmers? welfare which have been doubled for this financial year. During the interview he also touched upon Government?s aim to double the income of farmers over the next five years.
He also spoke on the utility of Soil Health Cards, a topic of interest to me as well. It was good to note that the Government aims to add 146 lakh soil samples in 2016-17, which will help in preparation of 8.07 crore cards! The fact that he acknowledged the challenge of slow progress of the Soil Health Card Scheme in some states reflected the transparent attitude of the Government. [Source: A press release by Press Information Bureau]
When asked about the National Agriculture Market, Shri Singh shared that e-Mandis have been established to ensure fair TRADE PRACTICES. He shared that at present 23000 farmers were linked to the 21 mandis in 8 states. He also informed the audience that the Government had received 365 proposals from 12 states for linking with e-mandis. And that he aims to connect all 585 mandis by the end of 2018. Shri Singh alluded to the state of Karnataka as an example, as they had pioneered the consolidated e-trading platform for farmers. However, he seemed disheartened while talking about the absence of mandi laws in Bihar and Kerala. [Source- Business Standard]
As one anticipated, Shri Singh also touched upon the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana- a revamped insurance scheme for farmers, which was envisaged to address discrepancies that existed earlier. In the older schemes compensation was given in the event of 50% crop loss but in the new scheme, it had been decreased to 33%. Compensation is also being given for the loss on account of natural calamities even after 14 days of harvest. He said that it was time consuming to get compensation, but with technology such as smart phones and drones which are likely to be used to assess and record losses faster and more efficiently, compensation cycle was being aimed to be reduced to within a month.
While he touched upon biotechnology briefly, the same was not discussed in detail. He shared that a biotechnology institute had been established in Ranchi, Jharkhand. It was encouraging that Shri Singh emphasized on the use of science and biotechnology to deal with irregular and inadequate rainfall. However, I was hoping he would talk a bit more about biotechnology in India and the scope for further growth and development!
Needless to say it is good to see Government using innovating ways to communicate with the citizens on key issues and we look forward to continued transparent communication, especially to the specific responses to a few queries I posted!
PS- For those who may have missed it, the whole video can be watched [Here]