Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Friday said that the state government was helping mitigate losses by purchasing their commodities at minimum support price (MSP) but added that he wants farmers to upscale their production further and earn dollars by exporting their produce.
Addressing farmers of Rajkot and Morville districts at Krushimahotsav at agriculture produce market committee here, the CM said that the state government started MSP operations early this year as prices of groundnut and tur declined. “In order to prevent the loot of groundnut at low prices, the government started purchasing it at MSP from Diwali onward. And we’ve purchased it in abundance. Then, we started purchasing tur at MSP. Our initial target was 50,000 metric tonnes (MT). But it was doubled to one lakh MT later on and the revised target stands at 1.75 lakh MT to help farmers,” said Rupani.
Saurashtra region of the state accounts for majority of cotton and groundnut production in Gujarat. The CM said that the government was also trying to reduce pendency of farmers’ applications seeking power connections.
“I’m aware the waiting list is very long in PGVCL. Farmers are demanding power connections quickly. Therefore, the government has decided to release 1.25 lakh connections for farmers of Saurashtra this year and clear pendency of of applications received till end of 2013,” said the CM.
Paschim Gujarat Vij Company Limited (PGVCL), a state government-owned company distributes electricity in Saurashtra and Kutch regions of Gujarat and around more than 1.5 lakh applications of farmers for agricultural power connections are pending.
The CM said the state government was committed to provide power and water to farmers to boost their yield. He said that Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Irrigation Yojna (SAUNI), the ambitious project of the government to diver floodwater of Narmada and to 115 reservoirs of Saurashtra through a 1,125 kilometers long network of giant pipeline will prove a game-changer for Saurashtra.
“Farmers of Saurashtra have the capacity to satiate the hunger of the world if they get water and electricity. Weather it’s drought or not, whether it rains or doesn’t, dams of Saurashtra will overflow with Narmada water through SAUNI project. The government has planned to complete this project in the coming year-and-a-half-year to ensure that farmers of Saurashtra prosper. The work on the project is going on on a war-footing. Work worth Rs5, 500 has been completed. Tenders for additional work with Rs6,500 were finalised last week. We will complete this project to ensure drought in Saurashtra becomes a thing of past,” said the CM.
Rupani added that while the government was helping farmers by purchasing their produce at MSP and building capacity for storage, farmers should think big and think about exporting their commodities.
“When SAUNI project is completed, farmers will upscale production of cotton, groundnut, pulses, vegetable, manors, dates etc and export them. This was the dream of Narendra Modi. This will make villages prosperous and prosperous villages will help cities prosper,” he said.
Krushimahotsav is the annual drive of the state government to promote latest technologies and best farming practices in the state. During the drive, agricultural scientists and agricultural officers interact with farmers in summer before monsoon rain arrive. The initiative was launched by Narendra Modi in 2005 when he was chief minister of Gujarat.
Speaking on the occasion, Gujarat Agriculture Minister Chiman Sapariya listed pro-farmer measures taken by the government. He said the government had increased the subsidy component for micro irrigation systems to 70 per cent from this year and that budget allocation for releasing agricultural electricity connections too had been doubled to Rs2000 crore for the current fiscal. He also added that state government proposes to spend Rs750 crore over the next three years to help farmers erect barbed-wire fencing around their farms and prevent wild animals like blue bulls and wild boars from damaging stansing crops.
Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Ram Kripal Yadav and Union Minister of State for Food Processing Industries, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti were also present at the Krushimahotsav and addressed farmers. The CM also dedicated to public an RCC road and a swage water treatment plant of Gondal municipality during the event.