Stressing that shrinking farm sizes is a challenge, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said there is a need to give maximum benefits of government schemes to small farmers who account for more than 80 per cent of the farming community.
"We need to focus on major challenges facing the agriculture sector. One challenge is that shrinking farm sizes in villages," Modi said during his Independence Day speech in New Delhi.
The farm land is shrinking because of increasing population and division of families, he said.
Stating that more than 80 percent farmers in the country have less than 2 hectares of farmland, the Prime Minister said, "Earlier the policies did not focus on small farmers. Now keeping farmers in mind, farm policies and reforms are being made."
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 said.
Keeping small expenses in mind, the government is implementing the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) under which more than Rs 1.5 lakh crore has been transferred in the bank accounts of over 10 crore farmers, he added.
The 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, under the PM-KISAN scheme.
Modi also announced the distribution of fortified rice to the underprivileged sections of the society, to ensure their nutritional needs are better looked after,
Rice provided under any scheme will be fortified by 2024, the prime minister said.
He also spoke about ensuring potable water supply to even the farthest corners of the country. Modi said that Over 4.5 crore new households have received piped water supply within two years of 'Jal Jeevan Mission'.
That apart, Modi said Kisan rails are being operated to ensure farmers are able to transport at less cost to different parts of the country.
Farm produce like black rice, turmeric, chilli, litchi are being transported to different regions of the country, and even the farm produce is being exported, he added.
Stating 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."
During the COVID-19 period, Modi said, everyone has seen the strength of technology and scientists.
"In every sphere, scientists are working with acumen. Time has come in agriculture sector also, 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.
The Prime Minister also said that the government is implementing 'Swamitva Yojana', under which land records are being digitalised, helping farmers getting loans easily.
On the subject of other underprivilged rural and urban communities, Modi said that reservation is being ensured for Dalits, STs, backwards and general category poor. He emphasized that the hand-holding of deprived communities is necessary.
"We have to bridge the gap between lives in villages and cities," the prime minister said.