In his first detailed interview since the repeal of three controversial farm laws, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar spoke exclusively to News18.com on various issues. The minister said the repeal of the law was a difficult decision despite being important for the government’s vision to improve the living standards of farmers. Also, he said development has not discouraged the government from working towards farmers, agriculture and villages. Tomar said that in fact, the government is more determined to bring more welfare measures in the agricultural sector. Edited parts:
You said the repeal of the Central Farm Act was a step backwards, but you maintained that the government was committed to the welfare of the farmers. How are you going to confirm that?
Led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government was, is and will remain committed to the welfare of the peasantry, the underprivileged and the villagers. The repeal of the three farm laws does not mean that the welfare system in agriculture and for the farming community has come to an end. However, in the last seven years, Prime Minister Modi has filled the gaps in the system to ensure effective implementation of pro-farmer policies and plans.
Take the example of the Prime Minister’s Kisan Samman Nidhi project. About 11.75 crore farmers have got the benefit of Rs 1.82 lakh crore directly in their bank accounts. The process has been extremely transparent and we have ensured that the mediators have been removed from the system.
We ensure that money reaches the beneficiaries without any leakage under the central schemes. 10,000 new FPOs are being set up in the country at a cost of Rs 6,865 crore, which will benefit billions of small and medium farmers and improve their livelihood.
Until now, our villages have been infrastructural, but our Prime Minister has confirmed that under the Self-Reliance India Campaign, a special package of Rs 1 lakh crore will be set up for the development of such facilities for farmers. Through these firm steps, our government will ensure the welfare of farmers and growth of the agricultural sector.
What is the most revolutionary agricultural project implemented by the Narendra Modi government for the agricultural sector?
Such schemes include the Prime Minister’s Kisan Samman Nidhi, the creation of 10,000 new FPOs and the creation of an agricultural infrastructure fund of Rs 1 lakh crore. In addition, we are trying to implement Prime Minister Modi’s vision for developing ‘smart agriculture’ in the country. The mission of digital agriculture and the use of technology in agriculture will ensure that a revolution will take place in our agricultural sector. These projects will ensure the welfare of farmers and increase their revenue.
Can you elaborate on the ‘smart farming’ that the Prime Minister has recently praised?
‘Smart farming’ is being created as part of Prime Minister Modi’s vision. All governments discuss issues and policies before the budget but for the first time all ministries have organized webinars with stakeholders and experts to ensure better budget planning. The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare has taken the advice of stakeholders and formulated a smart farming policy in consultation with other ministries. According to the strategy, modern, mechanical, self-reliant and adaptive technology-driven farming will be developed. The Prime Minister spoke about the strategy in a webinar on February 24, 2022. According to the Prime Minister’s speech, five key issues have been identified for the development of smart farming: improving organic farming and its reach, developing high technology and digital ecosystems. To restore the lost glory of our food grains and ensure self-sufficiency in edible oil, development of cooperative sector, creation of value chain infrastructure and creation of investment opportunities in agro-related activities.
Was it a difficult decision to repeal the Farm Act? The report of the Supreme Court-directed committee on farm law revealed that most farmers were in their favor.
It would not be appropriate to comment on the report of the SC committee. As far as repealing the agriculture law is concerned, Prime Minister Modi himself said it was a difficult decision. However, while celebrating Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the government wanted to respect the sentiments of all communities and groups in the country.
Do you think the repeal of the Farm Act has had any effect on the Punjab and Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections?
I do not think that the repeal of the Agricultural Act has had any effect on this Assembly election. Some parties and forces are trying to use the peasants as crutches and dream of weakening the Bharatiya Janata Party. But the people have rejected such efforts. We have made strong returns to Uttar Pradesh. The BJP government has also returned with a majority in Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.
When can we expect to form an MSP committee? What other issues will be taken along?
The process of forming the committee is already underway. The government has already announced what issues the committee will take up.
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