Thursday, 19 February 2015

Set up expert panels to boost agriculture: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi presenting Krishi Karman Awards at a function in Suratgarh in Sriganganagar, Rajasthan (Photo: PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi presenting Krishi Karman Awards at a function in Suratgarh in Sriganganagar, Rajasthan (Photo: PTI)
Suratgarh: Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked Niti Aayog and state governments to set up expert committees on agriculture to work out a common minimum programme for providing a boost to the sector.
"To boost agriculture...all states and Government of India together will identify the common minimum programme for nation-wide implementation," he said on Thursday.
Launching the Soil Health Card scheme, Modi said that he has directed Niti Aayog and the states to set up high-powered expert committees on the agriculture sector.
"Till now, it used to be a top to bottom approach. Now, we are going to take bottom to top approach. First, the state will prepare a policy on agriculture, later the Centre will come up with a policy after discussing with states. This initiative has already started," he said.
The farmers need to do away with traditional farming techniques and adopt scientific methods of agriculture to raise crop yields, he said, adding that the farming strategy should depend upon the quality of soil.
Highlighting the importance of soil testing, Modi said that farmers must focus on the health of soil in agricultural areas across the country, to boost productivity and bring about increased prosperity.
Modi said farmers can save a minimum of Rs 50,000 if they take decisions based on scientific testing of soil.
Calling for soil testing to be made a regular feature, the Prime Minister said a new class of entrepreneurs could set up soil testing labs even in small towns.
The centrally-sponsored scheme aims to provide soil health cards to over 14 crore farmers in the next three years to promote balanced use of fertilisers.
The card, which will carry crop-wise recommendation of fertilisers required for farm lands, will help farmers in identifying health of soil and judiciously use soil nutrients.
Referring to the song "Vande Mataram," Modi said that in order to achieve land that is truly "Sujalam, Sufalam," (well-irrigated and fertile), it is necessary to nurture the soil and the soil health card scheme is a step towards fulfilling this dream.
"I can assure you if farmers go by the scientific analysis of soil, and use water and other inputs, they can save a minimum Rs 50,000," he added.
Stating that agriculture is the key to poverty eradication, Modi asked farmers to take up agriculture in three parts.
"Firstly, carry on with traditional farming which you have been doing, but use more scientific and modern techniques. Secondly, grow more trees on the boundaries of your farm fields, which otherwise are kept unused. Thirdly, take up poultry, fisheries, dairy and other allied activities to raise your income," he said.
Modi also emphasised on judicious use of water and urged farmers not to waste even a drop.
The Prime Minister presented the Krishi Karman Awards to state government functionaries led by Chief Ministers of States and progressive farmers, to the states of Punjab, Odisha, Meghalaya, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Gujarat.
He presented Commendation Awards to state government functionaries led by Agriculture Ministers of States to Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Karnataka.
Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh and Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, and Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh were present on the occasion.
The Soil Health Card scheme assumes importance as the imbalanced application of fertilisers have caused deficiency of primary nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium), secondary nutrients (such as sulphur), and micro-nutrients (boron, zinc, copper etc.) in most parts of country.
The Centre aims to give 3 crore cards to farmers in 2015, 5.50 crore cards next year and remaining 5.50 crore in 2017. A digital system will be put in place so that local agriculture science centres across the country can keep details of soil-test results.
The country has a total cultivable land of 14.1 crore hectares and the government plans to take 2.48 lakh samples from all states and test the quality of soil in three years.

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