New Delhi: Recognition as a farmer by the Government through its PM KISAN scheme has played an important role in not only is ensuring income but also is giving confidence to every farmer across the country. Addressing the “3rd India Agricultural outlook forum 2019” with theme ‘Universal Basic Income for Farmers’ today, Secretary Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Shri Sanjay Agarwal said that 85 million farmers have already registered for the scheme and an amount to the tune of US $ 3.5 billion has been transferred to about 65 million farmers in the first installment itself. The income support scheme had really supported the farmers as about 1.1 million farmers in the initial installment had less than Rs. 500 in their account and the amount of Rs. 2000 credited through PM KISAN was withdrawn on the day itself. Elaborating the Scheme to the gathering which consisted of representatives from World Organizations and foreign delegates the Secretary said that beneficiaries are being identified by the State Governments and it is 100% Central Sector scheme, providing an income support of Rs.6000/- per year provided to small and marginal farmer families.
Highlighting several topics for the two day session, Shri Agarwal said that Artificial Intelligence and Big Data can play a great role in Agriculture Sector as the data is key to targeted development. Government is collating the data of its farmers through registration process for major Schemes, details of land holdings are getting digitized, insurance data, Soil Health Card data, KCC information data etc. which is further being utilized for understanding the actual status of farmer and his cultivation. He informed that recently a pilot project has been initiated in coordination with IBM’s Watson Decision Platform in 4 districts in the States of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh respectively to provide weather forecast and soil moisture information on pro bono basis at village level/ farm level to help farmers in taking decisions regarding water and crop management.
The Secretary said that the issue of food scarcity has been addressed through concerted efforts over the years and especially the pulses scarcity issue has been addressed through the steps taken in the last 3-4 years. This has been achieved with right information, reaching at right time to the framers and also access to required equipments. Now that the production has increased immensely in 2018-19, Government has started distributing pulses through the Public Distribution System with a focus to ensure nutrition security.
In the Crop Insurance sector, the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana now envisages use of improved technology like remote sensing imageries, Artificial Intelligence, Modeling tools to reduce time gap for settlement of claims. The PMFBY insurance cover is to the tune of about US $3.5 billion annually and covers nearly 20 million farmers. On the water management front Shri. Agarwal said that recently in a major programme by Government for the first time in history, the Prime Minister had given a task to 4000 officials to go to the districts and village level and to create awareness among the citizens on importance of water conservation and water management techniques.
Highlighting the Ministry’s specific focus on Agricultural market reforms, the Secretary said that large numbers of reforms are brought through the Model APLM Act like creation of Private Mandis, warehouses can also be created alongside. Also the eNAMs being in place has ensured a better price to the farmers. Tamil Nadu state was the first one to adopt the Contract farming Act after it was circulated to the States by the Central Government for adoption. Earlier, Punjab had already adopted the Act. Concluding his remarks, the Secretary said that he is confident that the fruitful discussion will take place in the two day Forum and also assured that the recommendations and suggestions shall be taken forward.
Delivering his address, Dr. Ramesh Chand, Niti Ayog Member said that situation in the country is now favorable for positive changes as the recommendations given by the scientists/researchers are being considered and implemented by the Government, therefore this opportunity should be properly utilized. Indian Agricultural sector has reached a stage of high commercialization and so it is imminent that there is a need to have an Outlook mechanism wherein the likely events in future could be forecasted and right kind of strategy can be adopted. He also added that the demands from other sources compared to household demand is becoming more important and therefore an estimation of demand in other sources for all food commodities is to be prepared at the earliest. Enumerating the challenges and opportunities in the Agricultural Sector, Dr. Chand said that Agro economic research requires special attention in the country.