In his Mann ki Baat address, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said that during the COVID crisis, the farmers of the country have shown tremendous resilience.
Prime Minister said that if the agriculture sector is strong, then the foundation of Atmanirbhar Bharat will remain strong. He noted that in the recent past, the sector has liberated from many restrictions and has tried to break free from many myths. He shared the example of Shri Kanwar Chauhan, a farmer from Haryana, who used to face great difficulties in marketing his fruits and vegetables outside the mandi, but in 2014, fruits and vegetables were excluded from the APMC Act, which greatly benefited him. He formed a Farmer Producer’s Organization and farmers in his village now cultivate sweet corn and baby corn and supply produce directly to Azadpur Mandi in Delhi, to big retail chains and Five Star Hotels, which has substantially boosted their income. Prime Minister underlined that these farmers have the power to sell their fruits and vegetables, anywhere and to anyone, which is the foundation of their progress, and now the same has been imparted to farmers all over the country, for the entire spectrum of their produce.
Prime Minister also cited the benefits accruing to farmers due to exclusion of fruits and vegetables from APMC purview by sharing the example of Sri Swami Samarth Farm Producer Company Limited – a Farmer Producer’s Organization in Maharashtra. He noted that farmers in Pune and Mumbai are running weekly markets themselves and selling directly without middlemen. He also talked about Tamil Nadu Banana farmer produce company, a collective of farmers, which purchased hundreds of metric tons of vegetables, fruits and bananas from nearby villages during the lockdown, and supplied a vegetable combo kit to Chennai. He mentioned the ‘Irada Farmer Producer’ group from Lucknow who, during the lockdown, procured fruits and vegetables directly from the cultivators’ fields, and sold directly in the markets of Lucknow, free from the middlemen.
Prime Minister noted that through innovations and application of new techniques, agriculture will progress further. He cited the example of Ismail Bhai, a farmer from Gujarat, who took up farming despite being discouraged by his family. He cultivated potatoes using drip irrigation technology – the high quality potatoes are now his hallmark, which he sells directly to large companies without middlemen, and earns huge profits. Prime Minister also shared the story of Ms. Bijay Shanti from Manipur who launched a start-up to develop thread from the Lotus stem, and noted that her efforts and innovations have opened new avenues in the fields of lotus farming and textile.