Farmers’ protests are ”exception” and state-centric; says Agri Minister

Describing the on-going farmers’ protests as an ”exception” and ”one state”- centric, Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Mr Narendra Singh Tomar today said at an ASSOCHAM meeting that there is an atmosphere of excitement about the new farm laws with lakhs of farmers supporting the ”historic reforms” in India’s agriculture sector.

Lauding ASSOCHAM for its appeal to end the current impasse on the new agriculture Acts, Mr Tomar said, ” Today there is an atmosphere of excitement about historic reforms in the agriculture sector. This andolan is an exception. It is of only one state. Talks and discussions are underway and I feel the issue would soon be resolved”.

He said while there are protests against the reforms, on the other hand, ”there are lakhs of farmers who are gathering in support of these laws”. Mr Tomar said he was in Gwalior where thousands of farmers have gathered in support of the new farm laws which would benefit crores of farmers.”

”Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi is fully committed towards the welfare of farmers and the agriculture sector. Farmers and poor people in the villages are his priorities and this is why new laws have been brought about and the entire agriculture sector would stand to benefit,” the Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister said, addressing the ongoing ASSOCHAM Foundation Week.

While several senior ministers are participating in the Foundation Week and interacting with the captains of Indian industry, the Prime Minister’s address on December 19 would be the high point of ASSOCHAM celebrations of its 100 years of service to the nation.

Enumerating a slew of measures taken up by the Narendra Modi Government for uplift of the rural economy, Mr Tomar said, the Prime Minister has given approval to the third phase of the Pradhan Mantri Sadak Yojana ,envisaging investment of Rs 80,000 crore.

An Atmanirbhar package of Rs one lakh crore has been unveiled for the agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries and the rural economy.

Mr Tomar said while the required private sector investment did not flow into the agriculture sector over the years, the trend would reverse with several structural reforms.

He said the country is set to harvest a record foodgrain production of 300 million tonnes in the financial year 2020-21, with agriculture being an outlier, showing growth in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Niranjan Hiranandani, President, ASSOCHAM said, Agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy. In order to increase farmer incomes India would need to adopt a higher value mix of farm output, capture greater value through better storage and processing, and make market mechanisms more efficient for farm inputs, financing, and sale of output which means adding more value at every step of the value chain. Also With the ever-growing need of the consumer and the ever-changing taste and preference, both domestic and global, the market requirements, food safety requirements have to be complied. All these factors have led to the need of making the sector Aatmanirbhar so that the benchmark standards in products and services may be achieved. It is heartening to note that the government has been proactive working towards the above measures.

Mr. Vineet Agarwal, Sr Vice President, ASSOCHAM said, Along with enhancing the value chain, the need to scale up agriculture is imperative with rising global population. It is critical to transform Indian agriculture to ensure safe, affordable & sufficient food and to overcome farmers’ challenges around low productivity & income. A collaborative approach between the government, industry, farmers and the society towards creating a transformational agricultural policy would greatly help in this regard.

Mr. Vivek Chandra, CEO, LT Foods said, The current actions by the government and the schemes launched to boost Agri output and productivity and to incentivise Agri value add products are all steps in the right direction. The forum and interaction with the Hon’ble Minister Shri Tomar organised by ASSOCHAM is very timely in getting the industry inputs on the policies and in industry jointly working with the government towards sector growth and enhancing farmer income.

Industry stalwarts present in the season were Mr Sagar Kaushik, COO, UPL Ltd,  Mr Anil Rajput,  Senior Vice ITC Ltd, Dr A K Tyagi Executive Director Haldiram , Mr Nitin Seth , Vice Chairman,  GD Foods Ltd.

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