Even as he asked farmers to ‘think big’, Chief Minister Narendra Modi painted a grim picture of agriculture in the country at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Agriculture Summit 2013 here on Monday.
Addressing delegates from 14 countries in Hindi, Modi said that everyday 2,500 people abandon farming as profession and more than two lakh farmers committed suicide in the past two decades.
He suggested to the Central government that instead of slaughterhouse subsidy, warehouse subsidy would help farmers save their livestock.
At the two-day event, which the CM claimed to be the first of its kind in India, farmers from 29 states and two Union territories listened to Modi’s suggestions to the Prime Minister on how to revive agriculture.
“Instead of slaughterhouse subsidy, if equal amount of subsidy was given in construction of warehouses, farmers would not have to send livestock to slaughterhouses,” claimed Modi.
At the event, partnered by Denmark, Modi said, “Indian farmer is insecure. I have figures from the government that say that 2,500 persons are abandoning farming per day. In the past 20 years, 2.70 lakh farmers have committed suicide. Less then 30 per cent farmers get loans from banks and the rest approach sharafs (private dealers).”
Modi said that there was an urgent need to increase farm productivity but the Centre was ignoring suggestions made by a committee he headed. “We do not lack talent, universities. Then what is the reason that productivity is low? We have nothing to map real-time production,” he said, mentioning figures that throw light on how India is way behind in farm productivity compared to countries like the Netherlands, Peru, Indonesia and Ireland.
Modi added that he had given suggestions to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh four times and thrice to the Government of India. He called for an integration of technology and e-governance with agriculture, and stressed giving benefits of IT revolution to farmers. He said the share of agriculture in GDP had dropped. “From 51 per cent at the time of Independence, it has dropped to 14 per cent,” he added.
Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal, who described his Gujarat counterpart as a great leader, echoed Modi in his attack on the Centre. Badal said in his address that the Centre nether consulted CMs nor took views of experts on issues pertaining to agriculture.
His suggestions to PM
* Debundle Food Corporation of India
* Mandatory 5% fruit juice content in aerated drinks
* Solid waste management in 500 towns to produce fertilizer from waste
* Promote organic farming
* Agriculture export promotion policy for each state
‘Donate iron for Sardar statue’
The summit served as platform for Modi to promote his pet project — Statue of Unity, a 182 ft statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. “Sardar Patel is the symbol of a unified India. He was the ‘Iron Man’ and a farmer. I want farmers to donate iron pieces that they use in farming,” he said, adding that the collection drive will begin on October 31, Patel’s birth anniversary.