New Delhi, July 01 (Hindustan Times). Emphasizing the need to reduce the import of edible oils and pulses, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that cooperatives can play a major role in making India self-reliant.
The Prime Minister was addressing the gathering after inaugurating the 17th Indian Cooperative Congress at the International Exhibition-cum-Convention Center (IECC) in Delhi today. During this, he also launched e-commerce website for cooperative marketing and e-portal of cooperative extension and advisory service portal.
The Prime Minister said that the role of the cooperative sector in the development of villages and farmers is going to be bigger in the Amrit Kaal. “Sarkar aur Sahakar (government and cooperatives) together will give double strength to the dream of a developed India,” he asserted. He informed that through the Digital India campaign, the government increased transparency and ensured benefits to the beneficiaries. Today, the poorest believe that corruption and nepotism in the upper echelons have been eradicated. With the focus on cooperation, it is important that our farmers and herders feel it in their daily lives. It is necessary that the cooperative sector becomes a model of transparency and corruption free governance. For this, digital systems should be promoted in the cooperative sector.
The Prime Minister said that India is known in the world for its digital transactions. He urged cooperative societies and banks to be ahead in digital transactions. He said that this would increase transparency and efficiency in the market, as well as better competition.
The Prime Minister mentioned the contribution of dairy cooperatives in making India the world’s leading milk producer and the role of cooperatives in making India one of the top sugar producing countries in the world. He underlined that cooperatives have become a major support system for small farmers in many parts of the country. The Prime Minister also said that the contribution of women in the dairy sector is about 60 percent. He informed that it was for the first time that a separate ministry for cooperatives was formed and budget was allocated, as a result of which cooperatives are being provided a platform just like the corporate sector. The Prime Minister also informed about measures to strengthen cooperatives and mentioned the reduction in tax rates.
Keeping in mind the large number of farmers associated with the programme, the Prime Minister highlighted the measures taken for farmer welfare in the last 9 years. He said that before 2014, farmers often used to say that they get very little help from the government and whatever little was received went into the accounts of middlemen. Small and medium farmers of the country remained deprived of the benefits of government schemes. This situation has completely changed in the last 9 years. Today, crores of small farmers are getting PM Kisan Samman Nidhi. He said, in the last 4 years, 2.5 lakh crore rupees have been transferred in a transparent manner under this scheme. He said that if we consider the total agriculture budget of 5 years before 2014, then 2.5 lakh crore is a huge amount which is less than Rs 90 thousand. This means that we have spent more than three times of the total agriculture budget in those five years only on Kisan Samman Nidhi.
The Prime Minister also elaborated on ways to ensure that farmers are not burdened with rising global fertilizer prices. He said that today a farmer pays about Rs.270 for a sack of urea while the same bag costs Rs.720 in Bangladesh, Rs.800 in Pakistan, Rs.2100 in China and Rs.3000 in the US. He said, this shows what the guarantee looks like and how big efforts are needed to make a difference in the lives of farmers. The Prime Minister said that in the last 9 years, more than Rs 10 lakh crore has been spent on fertilizer subsidy alone.
Highlighting the government’s seriousness towards providing farmers the right price for their produce, the Prime Minister said that the government bought farmers’ produce at enhanced MSP and gave farmers an amount of more than 15 lakh crores in the last 9 years. “The government is spending an average of over Rs 6.5 lakh crore annually on agriculture and farmers,” Modi said. “The government is ensuring that every farmer in the country gets around Rs 50,000 in some way or the other every year,” he said.
Continuing the government’s vision of farmer welfare, Modi informed about the recent package of Rs 3 lakh 70 thousand crore for sugarcane farmers and fair and remunerative price of Rs 315 per quintal. This will directly benefit 5 lakh sugarcane farmers and people working in sugar mills.
Emphasizing the need to reduce the import of edible oils and pulses, the Prime Minister in his address said that we will not be self-sufficient in the food sector with only wheat, rice and sugar. We have to increase production in other areas including pulses, edible oil, fish feed. We have to import pulses and edible oil in large quantities from abroad. The cooperative sector should think in this direction.
Modi said that today more than 25,000 cooperatives are working in the fisheries sector. This is improving the lives of our fishermen and improving their earning potential. Inland fisheries have also seen a growth of 2 times in the last 9 years.
The Prime Minister said that storage is also a major issue. Our food security and our farmers have suffered a lot in the long run due to lack of facilities to store food grains. Today in India we can store less than 50 percent of the food grains we produce. Now the central government has come up with the world’s largest storage scheme. He said that in the last several decades, we have a storage capacity of more than 1,400 lakh tonnes in the country. We have resolved to create new storage capacity of about 700 lakh tonnes in the coming 5 years. This is definitely a huge task, which will increase the potential of the farmers of the country, will create new jobs in the villages.
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