New Delhi: With back-to-back droughts hitting the agriculture output hard, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday called for steps to conserve water and asked farmers to focus on crop diversification and go for allied activities like dairy, poultry and food processing to boost their income.
Inaugurating a 3-day 'Krishi Unnati Mela', Modi said since May 2014 when it came to power, his government has taken several initiatives for agriculture growth, including introduction of a new insurance scheme and giving soil health cards to farmers, with a view to doubling their income by 2022.
As per the latest government data, the all-India average monthly income of agricultural households during the crop year July 2012-June 2013 was estimated at Rs 6,426.
He even gave a clarion call for second green revolution in eastern states, which have adequate water and fertile land, through adoption of modern technologies.
Putting a premium on water conservation to raise farm productivity and income, Modi said the government has identified 90 stuck irrigation projects which can irrigate 80 lakh hectares. The government is spending Rs 20,000 crore to boost irrigation projects.
Attacking opposition parties for claiming that all projects and programmes started when they were in power, the Prime Minister said: "You would be surprised to know that as much as 90 projects which are full of water like dams have been built, but there is no way to provide water to farmers."
He added: "Now, my government is working to provide water from these projects and once it is completed, around 80 lakh hectares will get water. And once water reaches there, you all can think how much that land will give us back."
The Prime Minister spoke of funds from MNREGA programme to be utilised this summer for creation of assets such as ponds to conserve water.
"About MNREGA, many discussions take place, but no asset has been created. This government is emphasising... during this summer in every village, one work should be done through MNREGA and that is desilting of ponds, deepening of ponds and creating new ones. In this Budget, the government is aiming at 5 lakh ponds," Modi said.
For good part, the Prime Minister emphasised on micro and drip irrigation as well as liquid fertiliser to reduce cost of production and raise farmers' income level.
"Water harvesting is of as much importance as water conservation. We do not have the right to waste water. Per drop more crop is how we can do that," Modi said.
The Prime Minister asked farmers to continue with their regular farming activity, but also told them to adopt animal husbandry, grow timber and go for value addition and processing. "Food processing is the best way to increase the farmers' income," he suggested.
Emphasising the need to make rural economy vibrant to boost overall economic growth, Prime Minister said: "If we have to change India, we need to change villages and achieve agriculture growth."
The big challenge before the country is to encourage farmers take up modern technologies and take benefit of the schemes being implemented for them, he said, adding the mela is organised to create awareness to thousands of farmers.
"We cannot instill confidence in farmers unless they are made aware of modern technologies," he added.
In order to survive natural calamities, Modi suggested that farmers should follow three-pronged approach towards farming to insulate from crop losses.
"At present, farmers follow one pillar, that is farming alone. When this pillar falls down due to hailstorm, their survival is affected. So, it is important to have our farming based on three pillars," he said.
The first one is to continue to regulate farming in one third of the crop area. The second one is to grow timber on the boundary of the farm field and the third one is to adopt animal husbandry, poultry and bee keeping among other activities.
"If we do our farming on these three pillars then farmers will have ways to insulate from losses due to natural calamities. And their income will also rise," Modi said....