Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh today said the Central government is working on a new crop insurance scheme to help farmers tackle flood, drought and plant diseases in a better manner.
He said it will be launched soon across the country as the existing scheme has not proved to be beneficial to the farmers. Details will be unveiled during the Budget session of the Parliament, he added.
Singh also said hoarding is behind the rising prices of onion despite its all-time record production in the country, and said directions have been issued by the Central government to all states to act tough on hoarders.
“The present National Crop Insurance Programme has not benefited our farmers. Our government is working on a new crop insurance scheme in the country so that the farmers could be safe when floods, drought and diseases strike their crops,” Singh told media persons.
Singh, who is in Bihar on a two-day trip, said the Central government will consult Chief Ministers and Agriculture Ministers of all the states regarding the new crop insurance policy and make efforts to incorporate their suggestions.
Talking about rising onion prices, the Union Minister said: “There has been a record and bumper harvest of onion in the country and there is no supply gap, so there is no reason that its prices should rise. This is a handiwork of hoarders and the Central government has issued directions to all states to take action against such persons.”
Singh said agriculture and farmers are the top priority of the Central government as improving their condition is a must to strengthen India. He said a policy to improve and conserve livestock in the country is also on the cards along with Soil Health Card and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sinchai Yojana.
The Union Minister met state Agriculture minister Narendra Singh and other officials and reviewed the Centre-sponsored schemes. He said Bihar has been lagging in spending the funds allocated under the Centre-sponsored schemes.
“My ministry’s data shows that Rs 785.74 crore was allocated to Bihar to spend on various agricultural schemes, but the state government spent only Rs 386.98 crore. This is not good for the development of agriculture,” said Singh.
Singh said the Union Agriculture ministry has sought land at Muzaffarpur from the Bihar government to establish a fisheries research centre and training centre at Khagaria or Begusarai for maize cultivators.
“Along with these, proposals to open agriculture colleges in Gaya, Munger, Saran and Champaran districts are in the offing. These parts of the state have no agriculture colleges,” he said.
The Union Agriculture minister said he will enquire with the concerned people regarding the reasons behind the delay in converting Rajendra Agriculture University (RAU) at Pusa in Samastipur into a Central university.
“I saw the files. The proposal is hanging fire for the last five years. It was approved by the Planning Commission in 2009 and Rs 1,000 crore was sanctioned. Somehow nothing happened after that. It is a loss for the state,” said Singh.
“I will talk to the Bihar Chief Minister, state Agriculture Minister and other officials in the coming days. I believe having good education and research facilities are necessary for the development of agriculture,” he said.
The Union Agriculture minister said all Bihar districts are present in the contingency plan formed at the Centre for 500 districts in the country to tackle any drought-like conditions that may emerge if there is less than usual rainfall.
He also said that a Bill regarding Central University at Motihari in East Champaran district will be tabled by the NDA government in the Parliament during the monsoon session.
The university will be named after Mahatma Gandhi as he had launched his Satyagraha movement against the British oppression in the country from Champaran itself, he added.
Singh also sought to allay concerns related to deficient monsoon, saying the central government is completely ready to tackle such a situation if it surfaces.