New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday spoke of the "untapped potential" of the farm sector while marking out areas for improvement to push the country out of the economic slump. Addressing the sixth governing council meeting of NitiAayog, he said, "Even today, despite being called an agricultural country, we bring 65,000-70,000 crores of edible oil from outside”. The country, he added, should stop this. "The money can go to our farmers' account. Our farmers are entitled to this money, but for this we have to make our plans that way," the Prime Minister added.
Interestingly, the meeting which was held amid the ongoing farmers' protest, did not deliberate on the controversial farm laws, sources informed this newspaper.
Agriculture minister Narendra Tomar had been asked by the Prime Minister to attend the meeting, as agriculture was among the main subjects of the meeting.
"Even during Covid-19, India saw a rise in exports in the agriculture sector. We have a lot of untapped potential in this sector. Wastage of our products should be as less as possible and we must thus concentrate on storage and processing," he said.
Mr Modi also advised extending help to the private sector as a key move to seek foreign investment and emphasised on strengthening MSMEs and start-ups.
With the prime focus on developing agricultural best practices, strengthening local manufacturing in states and improving health care facilities, the meeting witnessed suggestions by several chief ministers on improving logistical support and reducing input costs to enable increased manufacturing in states.
The meeting which was held virtually was not attended by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh (who was indisposed), Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao and Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani (who has tested positive to Corona virus).