85% of farmers are marginal, efforts on to update them on latest technologies: R M Singh

As per the union agriculture minister, Mr Radha Mohan Singh, the strategy documents on doubling farmers’ income by 2022 for different states have been developed through coordinated efforts

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New Delhi: Recently while addressing the Vice Chancellors of State Agriculture Universities and Directors of ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) Institutes at New Delhi, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Mr Radha Mohan Singh informed that there are about 138 million landholders in the country, out of which about 85% of the farmers are marginal (67%) or small (18%). He asserted that this vulnerable class of farmers is in an urgent need of farming techniques and information.

The Minister said that State Agriculture Universities and ICAR have been working to make agriculture sustainable and beneficial for the farmers. Despite the challenges, agriculture universities and ICAR have made remarkable progress in agriculture productivity and production thereby helping small and marginal farmers in enhancing their income. Significant steps have been taken to attain Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of “Doubling Farmers’ Income by 2022”. In a coordinated effort, agriculture universities and ICAR institutes along with various state and central agencies have developed “Strategy Document on Doubling Farmers’ Income by 2022 for different States. This will immensely help in achieving the prosperity of farmers. In addition to this, special emphasis has been given on developing new technologies, integrated farming system, institution building, and human resource, diversification in agriculture, creating new opportunities and developing new sources of information.

Mr Singh added that the ICAR has developed 45 Integrated Farming System (IFS) models to help small and marginal farmers to tide over the problems associated with climate change. This model is being replicated and taken forward through KVKs spread across the country. Besides this, ICAR has developed 623 certified District Level contingency schemes and organized skill development programs for 40.9 lakh farmers.

“In order to assist the Government’s “Soil Health Card” initiative, minilabs were developed for soil testing. ICAR through its KVKs spread across the country have displayed climate-friendly techniques in 29 States. ICAR has also developed 42 organic farming techniques, which were tested and are being further improved,” Mr Singh said, “The government, for the benefit of farmers, has initiated several programs like agriculture extension, Sankalp Se Siddhi, ‘Mera Gaon Mera Gaurav, infrastructure development, agriculture education, agricultural research, international cooperation, technology transfer etc.”

Mr Singh said that the total food grain production in the country stood at 275.68 million tonnes in 2017-18, which is about 10.64 million tonnes (or 4 percent) more than what was produced in 2013-14. In fact, the production of foodgrain this year is 19 million tonnes more than the average production between 2011-12 and 2015-16. Horticulture, which contributes significantly to nutrition, also witnessed record production at 305 million tonnes in 2016-17, 4.8% more than last year. The production of fruits has crossed 93 million tonnes and vegetables 178 million tonnes. The technologies developed by State Agriculture Universities and ICAR have played a praiseworthy role.

Also present at the occasion were Mr Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare; Dr Ramesh Chand, Member, Niti Ayog; Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary, DARE & DG, ICAR; Dr C Roul, Special Secreatry, DARE; Dr Narendra Singh Rathore, Financial Adviser, DARE, Director, IAUA and Deputy Director General (Agricultural Education); and VCs of agriculture universities and Directors of ICAR Institutes. The VCs of State Agricultural Universities, Directors of ICAR institutes and senior officers of ICAR will discuss ways of improving agricultural research and education