Tribune News Service
New Delhi, August 15
Making small farmers with less than two hectares of land the centrepiece of his Independence Day address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday stressed the need to give maximum benefits of government schemes to those who account for more than 80 per cent of the farming community.
Stating that his dream is to make small farmers the pride of the country — ‘Chhota kisan, bane desh ki shaan’ — the Prime Minister said, in coming years, “we will have to increase the collective power of the small farmers of the country. They have to be given new facilities”
Significantly, amid the ongoing agitation against the three Central farm laws, the Prime Minister also said that “political will is required to bring in big changes and big reforms”.
“Today, the world can see that there is no dearth of political will in India. Good and smart governance is needed to bring reforms. The world is a witness to how India is writing a new chapter of governance,” he said.
The Prime Minister said small farmers were not given enough attention in earlier policies which his government was trying to change by increasing their collective power by providing them with new facilities. To the farmers, the Prime Minister assured, reforms were for their benefit. “The decisions are now being taken keeping small farmers in mind. They were ignored in the past. Our dream is Chhota kisan, desh ki shaan”.
“We need to focus on major challenges facing the agriculture sector. One challenge is the shrinking farm sizes in villages.
“Farmland is shrinking because of increasing population and division of families,” he said, stating that more than 80 per cent farmers in the country have less than 2 hectares of farmland
Prime Minister Modi, who mentioned farmers several times in his speech, talked about various programmes undertaken by his government in this direction. He said policies like Fasal Bima Yojana, increasing the minimum support price (MSP) by 1.5 times, linking farmers with Kisan Credit Card (KCC) for cheaper farm loans, taking solar power schemes till farmland or setting up of Farmer Producers Organisations (FPOs), will all strengthen small farmers in the country.
The Prime Minister said that keeping small expenses in mind, the government is implementing the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) under which more than Rs 1.5 lakh-crore have been transferred to bank accounts of over 10 crore farmers.
Kisan rails are being operated to ensure farmers were able to transport at less cost to different parts of the country, he said, adding that produce like black rice, turmeric, litchi, are being transported to different regions of the country and some are also being exported.
PM Modi also announced the distribution of fortified rice to the underprivileged sections of society, saying that rice provided under any scheme will be fortified by 2024. “Today we see our villages changing rapidly. In the past few years, facilities like road and electricity have reached villages. Today, the optical fiber network is providing the power of data to villages, the internet is reaching there. Digital entrepreneurs are getting ready in villages too,” he said