New Delhi: Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister, Shri Radha Mohan Singh and Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) today here jointly interact with the media on National Conference on Sustainable Agriculture And Farmers’ Welfare will convene between 17-18 January, 2016 at Gangtok, Sikkim. Shri Singh informed that the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi will be on a two-day visit to Sikkim from 18th of this month and important highlights of the visit include focus on Sikkim’s “Organic Programme”, 3-day “Sikkim Organic Festival” and an All India National Conference on “Sustainable Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare”. Also present was MoS Agriculture Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Balyan.
Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister said that it is a fine example of cooperative federalism where the ministers and officers, responsible for agriculture in the country are going to deliberate together for 2-days. They will be supported by scientists, academics, bankers, experts and practitioners so that the suggestions and recommendations are actionable. Minister added that the National Conference will deliberate upon the challenges and identify initiatives to transform agriculture based on sustainable and efficient use of resources like soil & water, higher per unit yields, remunerative prices on produce, risk coverage and mitigation of potential negative impact of climate change.
Addressing the press conference, Shri Singh said that government is focusing on “Organic Farming” in Northeast and the 3-day Organic Festival will give a boost to this endeavor. By year 2025, he said, India will be able to provide food for 150 crores of its population.
Referring to group insurance, agriculture investment and land lease investment as his Ministry’s priority areas, Shri Singh said, all these different subjects will be discussed in separate technical sessions during the proposed 2-day conference. He also referred to “Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana” (PMKSY) which envisages “Har Khet Ko Pani” and “Per drop more crop”. Improvement in agricultural productivity will also have to take the cognizance of climatic variations and the need to bring resilience to climate.
Dr Jitendra Singh, while addressing the press meet, said that Northeast has the potential to be developed as a hub of organic farming and this is possible only when the enormous available resources are sought to be channelised in a scientific and systematic manner. Promotion of organic products, with Sikkim as the nodal State, will not only help in generating revenue and employment opportunities but will also be a great booster for the Government of India’s “Act East Policy”.
Referring to some of the other major projects in Sikkim, Dr Jitendra Singh referred to the Greenfield Airport at Pakyong which is expected to be complete and become functional by 2017 and will emerge as one of the most beautiful destinations in the region. In addition he said, there is also a plan to connect Sikkim with the country’s rail network and after the present government took over under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, this will be the third North-Eastern State after Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh to be brought on the rail map of India.
Dr Jitendra Singh also referred to the plan for constructing alternative road highway to Gangtok in Sikkim via West Bengal and two ropeways which will serve the purpose of both tourism as well as transport.
Elaborate details with presentations about the various aspects of “Organic Farming”, agriculture and other important projects in Sikkim was also made during the Press Meet.
The Organic Mission Programme is to be carried out by the Union Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare with support of Union Ministry of DoNER and in collaboration with the State Government of Sikkim.
Full text of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Minister, Shri Radha Mohan Singh is:
“By 2025, India’s population will grow to 1.4 billion, and by which time the water demand for food production is expected to increase dramatically. This challenge is bound to become acute due to depleting water resources, degrading land and variable weather associated with climate change. There exist already issues relating to viability of farming on account of small and marginal size, as also inefficiencies of marketing system.
National Conference on Sustainable Agriculture And Farmers’ Welfare will convene between 17-18 January, 2016 at Gangtok will deliberate upon these challenges and identify initiatives to transform agriculture based on sustainable and efficient use of resources like soil & water, higher per unit yields, remunerative prices on produce, risk coverage and mitigation of potential negative impact of climate change. The focus of the Conference will be on enhanced water use efficiency, restoration & sustenance of soil health, convergence & efficient use of resources, land lease, building resilience to climate change through adaptive measures, secure farming through effective crop insurance scheme, strengthening of agricultural value chain and building capacity of farmers. Emphasis shall be to make agriculture a commercially attractive proposition for youth, by making it more skill, technology and knowledge centred. Issues like reducing cost of production and leveraging digital technology will also be discussed.
The Government is mindful of adopting a mission approach to integrate resources that intersect agriculture and horticulture. Measures to harness the power of demand driven innovations and science led technologies, for example conserving rain water, enhancing water and nutrient use efficiency, crop diversification, local value addition, linking farmers to equitable markets, checking storage losses and wastage shall be important topics of discussion in this national conference.
Convergence and building capacity for collective action shall be the underlying theme. Line ministries and departments of Government of India and State Governments, research institutions and stakeholders will engage intensively keeping farmers welfare at the center of design intervention.
The Conference shall hold workshops on priority sectors in agriculture. A workshop on convergence of agriculture and horticulture through our flagship programme of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) has been slated. Other workshops of equal importance include the vital issues of soil health, marketing efficiencies, enhancing domestic production of pulses and oilseeds, mitigation of weather and market risks and exploring economic opportunities in agriculture.
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) :
As you know, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has launched PMKSY to address the key challenge of scarce water as it relates to farming. Agriculture uses 70% of fresh water resource for 17% of global population which resides in India, though India has only 4% of global fresh water resources. This conference aims to converge various schemes and programmes to harness water to provide water to every farm. Once water reaches the farm, the critical issue is its efficient use, so that each drop of water produces optimal crop yield. Water use efficiency and soil moisture conservation in rainfed and marginal areas is a vital topic on which ideas among experts and practitioners will be exchanged. Maximum benefit is expected to accrue from integrated watershed management including Har Khet Ko Pani intervention in rain-fed areas. The participants will also discuss on deployment of remote sensing, geographic information system, water budgeting, simulation models and other science and management based tools to implement PMKSY.
Soil Health Management :
Apart from water, soil is another important natural resource which is essential for crop production. On account of indiscreet and unregulated use of fertilizers, large tracts have been rendered saline and alkaline impacting the farming. The Government, therefore, aims at collecting soil samples at farm level and analyze them for 12 comprehensive parameters and advice the farmers on the usage on fertilizers so as to realize optimal yields. The scheme also aims at providing this facility to the farmers once in every cycle of 3 years. This will help the farmers to not only reduce the cost of cultivation but also sustain soil health while realizing higher yields. At the workshop, the participants will deliberate upon this sustainable practice and suggest innovative ways of involving students and scientists of agricultural colleges and universities; imparting skills to youths who can then become entrepreneurs in soil health management by availing loans from banks to build their enterprises. The participants will also suggest innovative ways of transferring the knowledge contained in soil health cards to 14 crore number of landholders in the country. The Government is keen to build up scientific data base on the soil status. For this purpose, it has commissioned a study through Agro Economic Research Centre, Bengaluru to collect baseline data and then examine the impact of soil health cards after one or two seasons. The workshop will also deliberate upon effective use of neam coated urea by educating and orienting the farmers on its regulated use. AERC, Bengaluru will take up a similar impact study on Neem Coated Urea.
In the context of ushering in another Green Revolution in rainfed and hilly areas as also in the eastern part of India, where yield levels are low, the Conference will discuss alternate technologies that can be adopted. One of the technologies that the Ministry is promoting is organic farming through its comprehensive Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana. The issues relating to suitable varieties of package of practices, marketing and the con-commitment aspects of certification and branding will also be discussed. The Conference will keep in mind the country’s need to ensure food and nutrient security for the growing population as the country adopts these new technologies. Hence, focus will be brought on breeding of new varieties and new agronomic practices that will be a new package of technology for low yield areas.
Crop Insurance :
Currently, only about 20% of farmers in India are insured. Of the un-insured, though some are aware but appear disinterested; many feel that the facility is not available to them. It is vitally important that an effective Crop Insurance scheme is rolled out to protect the farmers’ livelihood. The Government is already readying itself to put in place a comprehensive and sustainable insurance ecosystem, that will cover maximum number of farmers and secure them against the unpredictable nature of farming in a meaningful manner.
Enhancing Investment in Agriculture:
Any Sector including agriculture requires capital investment so as to create the required infrastructure that will serve as both backward and forward linkages to the production activities. There are a large number of schemes that various ministries of Government of India implement. These include PMKSY, MGNREGA, RKVY, etc. The participants will deliberate upon ways of integrating the resources and objectives of these programmes so as to enhance public investment in agriculture and also effect the required synergy among different investments. The Conference will also look at ways of using these investments to serve as trigger to farmers to make private investment so that cumulative public and private sector investments in agriculture improve. Related to this issue is rational way of preparing district and state credit plans and availing of funds under RIDF for a more comprehensive planning and utilization of investments.
Policy on Land Lease:
On account of increasing population, the farm sizes are getting divided and fragmented. Of the total number of 14 crore farm holds, more than 85% belong to small and marginal farmers. The challenge that the agriculture sector faces is making the farming viable under such conditions. As the Conference debates this issue, the participants will b e expected to come up with creative suggestions. The prevailing lease system is another issue that is hampering agricultural growth. Since lease is not legally tenable under current provisions of the Revenue Acts, though the lease system is quite prevalent across the country, but is not recognized, the lessees are deprived of access to credit and government entitlements like subsidy on seeds, relief etc. The participants will put their minds together on the model Act and identify ways of making it possible for lessees to be entitled to assistance from government and banks.
Sikkim : Adoption of Organic Farming
Agriculture being a complex system, that involves diverse production activities and multiple stages starting from production to processing and marketing, all concerned will have to put their minds and heads together to find implementable solutions.
It is with this objective that both the Central and the States/UTs Governments are getting together at Gangtok. It is a fine example of cooperative federalism where the ministers and officers, responsible for agriculture in the country are going to deliberate together for 2-days. They will be supported by scientists, academics, bankers, experts and practitioners so that the suggestions and recommendations are actionable. This Conference is being jointly organized by the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Government of India and Government of Sikkim. Sikkim is the first state which is adopting organic farming on a universal basis. It has been a journey for over 12 years beginning 2003. The State has a legislation to back adoption of organic farming as the only farm of cultivation in the state. It also has an Act that prohibits use of agro-chemical in the state. It has already taken steps to convert its entire arable extent of 74,000 ha. into organic farming. It is now focusing on certification, branding, processing and marketing so that the farmers get premium price on the organically cultivated produce. The Prime Minister has kindly consented to be the Chief Guest at the Plenary Session of the National Conference on 18th January, before whom the Groups will make a presentation on the respective subjects. The Prime Minister will also be inaugurating the Flower Show on 18th January and Organic Products Exhibition on 19th January organized by Government of Sikkim.
For the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, it is a privilege that the Prime Minister will be giving his valuable time to this important conference on Agriculture.”