Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday urged private companies to avoid imports and buy locally produced oilseeds by providing farmers with a purchase guarantee, creating a win-win situation for both.
India, he said, aims to increase edible oil production by about 50 percent over the next 3-4 years.Modi said there is significant potential to expand palm oil cultivation under the National Mission on Edible Oil.
During a webinar on the positive impact of the Union budget 2022 on the agricultural sector, the Prime Minister said investors should step up to promote crop diversification.
Citing examples of oilseeds and legumes, Modi said, “There is a huge demand for these (legumes and oilseeds) in our country. Business needs to step up. There is an assured market for you (corporates). What is the need to import?”
The prime minister said the companies could tell farmers how much legumes and oilseeds they would buy. He noted that the agricultural insurance system already protects against crop losses.
The Prime Minister further stressed the need to study India’s food needs.
“We all need to work together to ensure that all the (food) items we need are produced only in India,” he said.
The government has set a target of increasing domestic edible oil production by 50 percent over the next 3-4 years, Modi said, stressing the target must be met within time. A program has already been launched to increase oil palm cultivation, he added.
It should be noted that India imports 60-65 percent of its edible oil needs.
According to industry data, the country’s bill for edible oil imports shot up to Rs 1.17 lakh crore in the 2020-21 oil year ended October 2021, compared to nearly Rs 72,000 crore in the previous year, the increase of world prices.
Modi also urged Indian business houses to help promote and promote Indian millet (core grain), which has a high nutritional value. The year 2023 has been declared the ‘International Year of Millets’.
He also spoke of “a huge opportunity” for business in nano-fertilizers, which will be a “game-changer” and food processing and ethanol production.
Modi also called on startups and private investors to establish a pan-Indian network of soil testing labs. He said there is a need to make farmers aware of the importance of regular soil testing.
The Union budget 2022-23, he said, focuses on making India’s agriculture modern and intelligent.
He noted that artificial intelligence (AI) would completely change farming and commerce related to agriculture in the 21st century.
Modi said the government’s goal is to increase farmers’ incomes, reduce input costs and provide modern facilities to farmers. He also asked companies to create a system where all farm equipment can be paid for rent.
The prime minister also asked agricultural universities and agricultural scientists to raise awareness about natural and organic farming.
Over the past seven years, Modi stressed that his government has introduced many new systems and improved the old ones for the entire agricultural value chain, from seed to market.
He said the agricultural budget has increased a lot in just six years and agricultural loans have increased 2.5 times in seven years.
The Prime Minister said Prime Minister Kisan Samman Nidhi’s plan had become a strong support for the country’s smallholder farmers.
“Under the scheme, almost Rs 1.75 lakh crore has been given to 11 crore farmers”. The center provides Rs 6,000 annually to farmers in three equal installments under this scheme.
During the difficult period of the pandemic, he noted that three crore farmers were given Kisan credit cards (KCC) as part of the specific action. The micro-irrigation network has also been strengthened, benefiting smallholder farmers, the prime minister said.
Thanks to this government’s efforts, Modi said, farmers have produced record food grains, adding that new records have been set in MSP purchases.
The prime minister stated that the government also encourages organic farming, saying that the market for organic products had reached Rs 11,000 crore, with exports rising from Rs 2,000 crore six years ago to over Rs 7,000 crore.
The Prime Minister called for raising awareness for an eco-friendly lifestyle and the resulting market for natural and organic products.
Referring to the budget, he said it focuses on making India’s agriculture “modern and smart” and discussed the seven ways the budget proposes to achieve it. These include promoting natural farming along the Ganges, providing modern technology in agriculture and horticulture, and new logistical arrangements for the transportation of agricultural products.
He added that the focus would be on better organizing agro-waste management and increasing farmers’ incomes through waste-to-energy solutions.
The budget also emphasizes that the syllabus for research and education in agriculture will be updated in line with the demands of the modern age regarding skills development and human resource development.
With an emphasis on innovations in irrigation, the Prime Minister underlined the government’s focus on ‘per drop, more crop’. According to him, there are also many opportunities for business here.
Modi noted that artificial intelligence (AI) would completely change the agricultural sector and trade related to agriculture in the 21st century.
The increasing use of drones in agriculture is part of this change.
“Drone technology will only be widely available if we promote agri startups. More than 700 Agri startups have been created in the country in the past 3-4 years,” he added.
He also spoke about the need for better post-harvest management and the promotion of food processing.The Prime Minister emphasized better management of agro-residual flows (parali).
“For this, some new measures have been taken in this budget, which reduce CO2 emissions and also provide farmers with income,” he said.
The prime minister also pointed to the potential of ethanol that the government is making headway on with a 20 percent blending target. The admixture has reached nearly 8 percent, compared to 1-2 percent in 2014, he informed.
Talking about the role of the cooperative sector, he said that the cooperative sector in India is very vibrant and needs to be turned into a successful business.”