Narendra Singh Tomar chairs 91st Annual General Meeting of the ICAR Society

New Delhi: The Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Rural Development & Panchayati Raj, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar has said the Government will soon register 10,000 new Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) in order to promote cooperative farming. Addressing the 91st Annual General Meeting of the ICAR Society here today, he said budgetary provision has been made to provide each FPO a sum of Rs. 15 lakh for all farming related activities ranging from sowing, harvesting to distribution and marketing.

Shri Tomar, who is also the President of the ICAR Society, said under the directions of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, an ambitious nationwide scheme has been launched to vaccinate 53 crore cattle and goats under Mission mode. Besides, target has been set for doubling of Fisheries harvesting and export and Milk production, he said.

The Minister also called for wider dissemination of Government schemes so that the benefits percolate down to the lowest level among the farmers. For instance, under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), he said, there were apprehensions that Insurance companies gained more than the farmers, besides reports of malpractices at lower level during inspection. With a view to alleviating such concerns, the crop insurance scheme has been turned voluntary now and premium also remains the same, – between one-and-a-half percent to 2%, he said. Shri Tomar said 58% of those who availed PMFBY crop cover were farmers who had availed crop loans. However, the fact is, as against the total sum of Rs.13,000 crore premium collected by insurance companies, a total of Rs.58,000 crore Insurance benefits have been paid to farmers, he added.

Shri Tomar said Agriculture is among the top priority sectors accorded by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. The challenge is to strengthen agriculture and rural economy, increase production and productivity, make farming a profitable venture and raise farmers and rural incomes. The Prime Minister has set the target of doubling farmers’ income by 2022, added Shri Tomar.

Speaking on the occasion, the Union Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry, Shri Piyush Goyal called for synergy between the various R&D institutions under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Universities and academia, PSUs and Industry so that the huge investments being made by each of them yields bigger returns. The Prime Minister has aimed to make India a $5 trillion economy in five years, said Shri Goyal, adding agricultural output and productivity will be a big factor towards achieving the goal. More R&D in agriculture, timely availability of farm credit, mechanised farming and automation will be critical to boost rural economy, he added.

Shri Goyal called upon agricultural scientists to work towards a stage when our agriculture breaks free of the vagaries of nature. He said the Kisan Rail has been announced in this year’s budget and the train with frozen containers will be a big step in transportation and marketing of agriproducts.

In his address, Rao Inderjit Singh, Minister of State (I/C) Statistics & Programme Implementation and MoS (I/C) Planning, also underlined the need to avoid duplication of R&D. Considering climate change, he called for developing crops that can grow in less water.

Addressing the gathering, Shri Parshottam Rupala, MoS for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, called for increased digitization for targeted agriculture subsidies and rural schemes. He also called for scaling up PPP model with ICAR R&D Extension programme. Shri Rupala said more capital is required in actual R&D since at least 70% share of ICAR Budget goes towards salaries and allowances.

Calling for more food processing industries to boost farmers’ income, Shri Pratap Chandra Sarangi, MoS for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, said the agricultural laboratories should be made common property with the participation of all concerned including students and farmers.

Underlining the role of agriculture sector in India’s economy, Shri Kailash Choudhary, MoS for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, also called for concerted efforts towards fulfilling the Prime Minister’s goal of doubling farmers’ income.

Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE) & Director General, ICAR gave an overview of the organisation’s activities. 229 varieties of new crops were released in the last one year, including 189 climate resilient crops.

On the occasion, Shri Tomar and other dignitaries released a number of ICAR publications and various kits and Mobile Apps developed by the ICAR.

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