PMINDIA

News Updates

PM’s address at the release of Commemorative coin to mark 75 years of Food and Agriculture Organisation

PM’s address at the release of  Commemorative coin to mark 75 years of Food and Agriculture Organisation

My cabinet colleagues Shri Narendra Singh Tomar ji, Smt Smriti Irani ji, Shri Purushottam Rupala ji, Shri Kailash Chaudhary ji, Smt Debashree Choudhary ji, representatives of Food and Agriculture Organization, other eminent personalities and my dear brothers and sisters! My greetings and best wishes on the occasion of World Food Day! I also congratulate all those who are working relentlessly to eradicate malnutrition all over the world.

Our farmer brothers of India, our Annadata, our agricultural scientists, and our Anganwadi & ASHA workers form a strong pillar or a strong foundation for the movement against malnutrition. They have not only helped to fill the granary of India with their hard work but are also helping the government in reaching out to the poorest of the poor far and wide. Due to their efforts, India is strongly fighting against malnutrition even amidst Corona crisis.

Friends,

This day is of great importance for Food and Agriculture Organization. Today, this important organization has completed 75 years. Over the years, FAO has played a major role in increasing agricultural production, eliminating starvation and improving nutrition around the world including India. The special commemorative coin of Rs 75 that has been issued today is to honour your spirit of service on behalf of more than 130 crore people of India. FAO’s World Food Programme receiving this year’s Nobel Peace Prize is also a major achievement. And India is delighted that India’s participation and engagement in the same has been extremely historic. We all know that when the World Food Programme was initiated, Dr. Binay Ranjan Sen was the Director General of FAO. Dr. Sen had experienced the pain of famine and starvation very closely. After becoming a policy maker, the pervasiveness with which he had worked is still relevant for the whole world. The seed that was sown has reached the point of receiving the Nobel Prize today.

Friends,

The FAO has also closely watched India’s fight against malnutrition in the past decades. At different levels in the country, efforts were made by some departments but their scope was either limited or scattered. We know that due to several reasons like pregnancy at a young age, lack of education, lack of information, lack of adequate water supply, lack of sanitation, we could not get the desired results of our fight against malnutrition. When I was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, work on several new schemes was initiated there keeping these facts in mind. I had a long experience in Gujarat about aspects like the root cause of a problem; why we were not getting results; and how could I get the results! With those experiences, when I got a chance to serve the country in the year 2014, I started afresh some efforts.

We moved ahead with an integrated approach and a holistic approach. By putting an end to the fragmented approach, we started work on a multi-dimensional strategy. On the one hand, the National Nutrition Mission was started while on the other hand we worked on every factor that was the root cause for malnutrition. We also worked on changing the behaviour of family and society on a large scale as well. More than 11 crore toilets were built in India under the Swachh Bharat Mission. While cleanliness could be seen due to the construction of toilets in the far-flung areas, there was a decline in many diseases like diarrhoea. Similarly, the rate of vaccination of pregnant mothers and children under Mission Indradhanush was also increased rapidly. New vaccines against viruses like rotavirus, developed in India, were also added under this. Keeping in mind pregnancy and the first 1000 days of the newborn, a major campaign was launched for Nutrition and Care for both the mother and the child. Work is underway at a rapid pace to deliver piped drinking water to every household in the villages under the Jal Jeevan Mission.

Today, sanitation pads are being made available to poor sisters and daughters of the country at a cost of one rupee each. One of the results of all these efforts is that the daughters’ Gross Enrolment Ratio has become more than that of the sons for the first time in the country. Necessary discussions are also going on to decide the right age of marriage for the daughters. I also get letters from the daughters across the country demanding a quick decision and asking why the committee has not yet come up with the report. I assure all those daughters that the government will take quick action on receiving the report.

Friends,

Another important work is being done to tackle malnutrition. Now such crops that are rich in nutritious substances like protein, iron, zinc etc. are being promoted in the country. Efforts are being made to ensure that the production of coarse cereals – Millets such as ragi, jowar, Bajra, kodo, jhangora, barri, kotki, etc. is increased and the people incorporate it in their diet. My special thanks to the FAO today for fully supporting India’s proposal to declare 2023 as the International Year of Millets.

Friends,

When India proposed the International Day of Yoga, there was a spirit of ‘सर्वजन हिताय- सर्वजन सुखाय’ behind it. India wanted to spread holistic wellness to all the countries of the world with Zero Budget. We have the same sentiment in our hearts behind the proposal to declare the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets. This will have two major benefits not only to India but to the entire world. One, nutritious food will be encouraged and its availability will increase further. And second – the small farmers, who have small or marginal land and who do not have the means of irrigation and are dependent on rains will benefit immensely. These small and medium farmers mostly grow coarse grains on their land. The coarse grains help these farmers in the areas where there is water scarcity and the land is not so fertile. That is, the proposal of the International Year of Millets is linked to both nutrition and income of small farmers.

Friends,

Another important step has been taken today that has boosted the POSHAN abhiyan in India. Today 17 varieties of new seeds of different crops including wheat and paddy are being made available to the farmers of the country. We often see that the common variety of some crops lack some nutritious substance or micro-nutrients. The good variety of these crops, the bio-fortified variety removes these deficiencies and improves the nutritional value of the grains. Over the years, there has been a lot of great work in the country in the research and development of such seeds; and I congratulate all the agricultural universities and agricultural scientists for the same. While only one variety of this type reached farmers before 2014, today 70 Bio-fortified Varieties of different crops are available to farmers. I am glad that some of these bio-fortified varieties have been developed with the help of local and traditional crops.

Friends,

During the last few months, during the Corona crisis, there have been a lot of discussions about starvation and malnutrition. The experts are expressing their concerns about what will happen? Amid these concerns, India has been providing free ration to about 80 crore poor for the last 7-8 months. During this period, India has distributed free food grains worth about Rs. 1.5 lakh crores to the poor. And I remember that when this campaign was being started, special care was taken to ensure that along with rice or wheat, pulses should also be provided free of cost.

This is the commitment of today’s India towards food security, for the poor. It is less talked about in the international platform. But today India is giving free food grains to such a huge number of citizens, which is more than the total population of the entire European Union and America. But sometimes we miss a big trend in daily life. Something similar has happened in relation to India’s work in ensuring food security. I have some questions, so that the international experts will realize what India has achieved in this direction. Did you know that till the year 2014, the Food Security Act was in force in only 11 states and it was implemented effectively in the entire country only after 2014?

Did you know that while the whole world was struggling due to Corona, the farmers of India broke the record of last year’s production this time too? Did you know that the government broke its old records of procurement of all types of food grains like wheat, paddy and pulses? Did you know that the export of essential agricultural commodities increased by more than 40 per cent as compared to the same period of 6 months of last year? Do you know that the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ system to ensure food security has already been implemented in 28 states and Union Territories of the country?

Friends,

Today several such reforms are being brought continuously in India which shows India’s Commitment towards Global Food Security. Improvements are being made one after the other from farming and empowering farmers to India’s Public Distribution System. The 3 major agricultural reforms that have taken place in the recent past are a very important step in expanding the agricultural sector of the country and increasing the income of the farmers. Friends, we have a system of APMC for years, which has its own identity, its own strength. In the last 6 years, more than 2500 crore rupees have been invested to build better infrastructure in these agricultural markets of the country. Hundreds of crores of rupees have also been spent to develop IT infrastructure in these mandis. These mandis are also being connected to e-NAM i.e. National Agriculture Market. The amendment made in the APMC Act aims to make these APMC more competitive. Several steps have also been taken to ensure that farmers get 1.5 times of the cost in the form of MSP.

Friends,

MSP and government procurement are an important part of the country’s food security. Therefore, it should be well managed scientifically, with good management system and should be continued and we are committed to the same. Earlier the small farmers of the country were compelled to sell their produce to middlemen due to lack of access to the mandis. With the new options it is certain now that the market itself will reach the doorstep of small farmers. This will not only provide higher prices to the farmer, but will also provide relief to the farmers due to the removal of middlemen; and the buyers or consumers will also benefit. Moreover, it will open up new avenues for the youth who want to develop modern facilities for the farmers through agro-start-ups.

Friends,

To give strength to small farmers, a large network of Farmer Producer Organizations i.e. FPOs is being developed across the country. The work of forming 10 thousand such Agricultural Producer Organizations is going on at a fast pace in the country. Organizations will also be able to negotiate in the market on behalf of small farmers. These FPOs are going to change the lives of small farmers in the same way as the Co-operative Movement has done in the field of milk or sugar, or like the Self Help Movement of women in villages has brought about meaningful changes.

Friends,

Food grain wastage has always been a major problem in India. Now that the Essential Commodities Act has been amended, this will change the situation. Now the government as well as others will get better opportunities to build a better infrastructure in villages. The role of our FPOs too is going to be an important one in the same. The government has recently launched an infrastructure fund of Rs 1 lakh crore. FPOs are also creating supply chains and value addition capacities in villages.

Friends,

The third law that has been enacted will also provide relief to the farmers from fluctuations in the prices of crops and will also encourage new technology in farming. Under this, apart from giving more options to the farmers, legal protection has also been given to them. When the farmer negotiates with any private agency or industry, the price of the produce will be decided even before sowing. And the company will provide Seeds, fertilizer, machinery and everything for this.

One more important thing; if the farmer wants to come out of the agreement for any reason, then he will not have to pay any penalty. But if the negotiating company breaks the agreement, it will have to pay a fine to the farmers. And we also have to keep in mind that the agreement will be only on the yield. The land of the farmer will not be at stake. That is, every type of protection to the farmer has been ensured through these reforms. If the farmer of India is empowered and his income increases, the campaign against malnutrition will also get equally boosted. I am sure that the growing synergy between India and FAO will give further impetus to this campaign.

I once again wish all of you the very best on 75 years of FAO. I hope you make a progress and the poorest of the poor across the country and the world gets rid of these problems in everyday life. Repeating our resolve to work with the world community, I once again wish you all the best!

Thanks a lot.

Thank you!