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PM says shrinking farm sizes a challenge; need to increase ”collective power” of small farmers

Stressing that shrinking farm sizes is a challenge, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said there is a need to increase the “collective power” of small farmers — who account for more than 80 per cent of the farming community — with new facilities in the coming years.

Small farmers have less than 2 hectares of land. Additionally, farm holdings are getting smaller and smaller in villages with rise in population and division in families, he said during his Independence Day speech.

Unlike the previous regime, the current government is bringing farm reforms and programmes with focus on small farmers, he said, adding that schemes like PM-KISAN and Fasal Bima Yojana will strengthen these cultivators.

Asserting that his dream is to make small farmers the pride of the country, the Prime Minister said, “In the coming years, we will have to increase the collective power of the small farmers of the country. They have to be given new facilities.”

The government will run a campaign to set up warehouse facilities at the block level, he said.

“Chota Kisan bane desh ki shaan! It is our dream, our mantra that small farmers become the pride of the country,” he asserted.

Stressing on the need to focus on major challenges facing the agriculture sector, the Prime Minister said, “One challenge is the shrinking farm sizes in villages.”

More than 80 per cent of the farmers in the country have less than 2 hectares of land. But the earlier policies did not focus on small farmers, he said.

“Now, keeping these farmers in mind, farm policies and reforms are being made,” he said, highlighting the programmes being implemented for empowering small farmers.

Be it reforms in Fasal Bima Yojana, increasing the minimum support price (MSP) by 1.5 times (the cost of production), linking farmers with Kisan Credit Card (KCC) for cheaper farm loans, taking solar power schemes till farm land or setting up of Farmer Producers Organisations (FPOs) — all these efforts will strengthen small farmers, he added.

Also, keeping farmers” small expenses in mind, Modi said the government is implementing the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) under which more than Rs 1.5 lakh crore has been transferred to the bank accounts of over 10 crore farmers.

Under the PM-KISAN scheme, an annual financial benefit of Rs 6,000 is provided to eligible beneficiary farmer families, payable in three equal four-monthly installments of Rs 2,000 each.

That apart, Modi said ”Kisan Rail” trains are being operated on more than 70 rail routes to ensure farmers are able to transport their produce at lower cost to different parts of the country.

Farm produce like black rice, turmeric, chilli and litchi are being transported to different regions of the country, and the farm produce is also being exported, he said.

Further, the government is implementing the ”Swamitva Yojana”, under which land records are being digitalised, helping farmers getting loans easily, he said.

“Every land in villages is being mapped using drones. The land records are uploaded digitally. This is addressing the disputes in villages and also helping farmers get loans easily,” Modi said.

A separate cooperative ministry has also been formed to strengthen the cooperative spirit and culture in the country, he added.

On floods in some parts of the nation, the Prime Minister said this has caused problems to people but both the Centre and state governments are with them.

Stating that the farm sector cannot wait any longer from reaping the full benefit of technology, Modi said everyone has seen the strength of technology and scientists during COVID-19.

“In every sphere, scientists are working with acumen. Time has come that in agriculture sector too the scientists” efforts and suggestions are engaged. We cannot wait anymore. We have to take full benefit….” he said.

This will not only help in ensuring food security but also enhance production of fruits, vegetables and grains. This will also help move ahead strongly at the global level, he added.

Modi further said there is huge potential for organic farming, herbal medicines and oil palm cultivation in the northeastern region.

Sharing how the country faced challenges arising out of COVID-19, the Prime Minister said people fought the pandemic with patience and worked extraordinarily in every sector.

Not only was the local vaccine against the coronavirus developed in time, the other need of feeding the poor was also taken care of, he said.

During the pandemic, free grains were distributed to more than 80 crore poor beneficiaries for months, he added.

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