A new record has been created under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme, by transferring Rs 12,000 crore to the bank accounts of six crore farmers at one go, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inaugural of a four-day Global Potato Conclave that began at Gandhinagar on Tuesday.
Addressing the third Global Potato Conclave via video-conferencing, Modi said India became a leader in production of foodgrains and food products due to farmers’ hard work and government policies.
“The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme of the Government of India has helped farmers meet a lot of small expenses. Till now, 8 crore farmers have been directly benefited by transfer of money directly to their bank accounts. At the beginning of this month, a new record has been created by transferring
Rs 12,000 crore at one go into the bank accounts of 6 crore farmers,” Modi said.
At an event at Tumakuru in Karnataka earlier this month, Modi had electronically released Rs 12,000 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Samman Yojana to six crore farmers in one go. The Yojana, also known as PM-Kisan, is a Central scheme with 100 per cent funding from the Government of India. Under the scheme an income support of Rs 6,000 per year is given to farmers in three equal installments of Rs 2,000 each every four months.
Talking about how Gujarat has become a hub for production and exports of potatoes, PM Modi said, “Looking at the utilities of potatoes, time has come for a new policy and research agenda to promote the potato sub-sectors. Hunger and poverty alleviation and global food security should be the base of this agenda.”
Praising potato farmers in Gujarat, Modi said, “Gujarat is top state in the country in terms of potato productivity… In the past two decades, Gujarat has become a hub for potato production and exports. In the past 10-11 years, while the rate of growth of potato production of the country has grown by 20 per cent, this rate of growth in Gujarat is 170 per cent. Policy initiatives and decisions and modern irrigation modes are a result in improvement in quality and quantity of potato.”
The PM added that schemes like ‘Sujalan Sufalam’ and ‘SAUNI Yojana’ brought irrigation facilities even to areas affected by drought. A wide canal network was created in a very small time, which is a big achievement, he said.
In 2018-’19, the country saw 53 million metric tonne of potato being produced. Gujarat stands fourth in the country in terms of potato production. Uttar Pradesh (accounts for 30% of total potato production), West Bengal (23%) and Bihar (10%) are the leaders.
However, Gujarat tops all other states, if the per hectare yield of potatoes is taken into account. In Gujarat, of the total potato produced, 20 per cent gets processed, while the national average is only seven per cent.
“Due to good policy decisions, the biggest potato processing units are in Gujarat and most of the exports also happen from here,” he said adding that the state also has a large network of cold storages for potato. Of the 3.8 lakh metric tonne potatoes exported from the country, almost one lakh metric tonne is from Gujarat.
“To make agriculture profitable, the government aims to create a modern and widespread network from farm to food processing to distribution. In the next five years, thousands of crores of rupees will be spent on irrigation and farm-related infrastructure,” he said.
“Farmer Producer Organisations are being promoted to make farmers access technology and markets. Our effort is to create 10,000 new FPOs in another five years… Our government has taken many steps to promote food processing sector, be it opening the sector to 100 per cent FDI or helping farmers develop value addition and value chain,” he said.
Speaking at the event at Mahatma Mandir, Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare said there were 40 lakh farmers involved in potato farming over 21.8 lakh hectares in India. “The Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI) in Shimla has the biggest gene bank in South-East Asia. It has a collection of 4,500 germplasms. It has developed 62 varieties of potatoes,” he said.
The Global Potato Conclave is being orgnanised by CPRI, Indian Potato Association, Indian Council of Agricultural Research and is being sponsored by domestic and multinational companies involved in potato processing.
(With PTI inputs)
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