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PM’s speech at 3rd Global Potato Conclave through video conferencing

Gujarat’s popular Chief Minister Shri Vijay Rupani, my colleagues in Union cabinet Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Shri Parshottam Rupala, Gujarat’s Agriculture Minister Shri R.C. Faldu, dignitaries on the podium, scientists from India and across the world and my dear farmer sisters and brothers.

Welcome to the abode and temple of Mahatma.

I have been told that scientists from several countries are participating in the Global Potato Conclave. They have been joined by thousands of my farmer friends and other stakeholders. In the next three days, all of you are going to discuss and find solution to the important issues regarding the global demand of food and nutrition.

The most important aspect of this conclave is that three events — Potato Conference, Agri Expo and Potato Field Day – are happening simultaneously here. I have been told that about 6,000 farmers are going to visit the farms of Gujarat on the Field Day. I think that it itself is a very commendable effort.

Friends, the good thing is that this year’s Potato Conclave has been happening away from Delhi and in the midst of thousands of potato growers. The choice of Gujarat as a conclave is also important because this state tops the rest of the states in potato productivity.

Friends,

In the last two decades, Gujarat has emerged as a hub of potato production and export. While there has been around 20 percent increase in the country’s potato production in the last 10-11 years, Gujarat has reported an increase of 170 percent.

The policy decisions along with modern and adequate irrigation facilities in the last two decades have contributed to the increase in the quantity and quality of potato. It is because of better policy decisions that Gujarat has not only sizable potato processing units but most of the potato exporters are also based in Gujarat. There is a huge and modern network of cold storage in Gujarat. Most of them are equipped with world class facilities.

Besides, programmes like Sujalam-Sufalam and Sauni Plan have made irrigation possible in those areas of Gujarat which used to be affected by drought.

A huge tract of Gujarat has come under irrigation due to Sardar Sarovar Dam. To develop a wide network of canals in a short span is a great achievement in itself.

Improvements are being made in the scientific and technological approaches towards irrigation and being implemented. The per drop more crop mantra is being effectively implemented by focusing on micro irrigation and promoting drip or sprinkler irrigation.

Friends,

Gujarat’s experiments in the last five years have been replicated in the country as well. We have made a steady progress and achieved significantly in our mission towards doubling the income of farmers by 2022. Several important steps are being taken. It is because of the combination of farmers’ efforts and government policies that today India is among the top three countries in the production of many cereals and other food items. At one point of time, we had a crisis of pulses. But the country’s farmers were determined and India scored a victory.

Friends,

In order to make farming more profitable, the government’s focus is to prepare a modern and wide network from fields to food processing and distribution centre. Thousands of crores of rupees will be spent on irrigation and farm-related infrastructure in the next five years.

Not only this, the central government has taken several steps to promote sectors involved in food processing. Efforts are being made at all levels, whether it is the 100 percent foreign direct investment in the sector or help being extended for value addition and value chain development through PM Kisan Sampada Scheme. Under this scheme, projects worth several hundred crore rupees have been completed in the country in a very short span of time.

Friends,

It is the endeavour of the government to reduce the cost of cultivation, reduce the cost of the farmer. The government’s PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi initiative has helped farmers meet their some of the expenses. So far, the scheme has benefited eight crore farmers. A new record has been created early this month by transferring 12,000 crore rupees to the bank accounts of six crore farmers.

Friends,

Our priority is to reduce the layers between farmers and consumers and the wastage of produce. In order to achieve this, traditional farming is being encouraged.

Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) are being promoted so that farmers have easy access to loans, technology and markets. It is the endeavour of the government to set up 10,000 new FPOs in the next five years. Not only this, a national agriculture market called e-NAM is becoming very popular among farmers.

Friends,

The government is also emphasizing to promote agro-technology based startups to create data base for farmers to help them with smart and pre-season agriculture. It will be of valuable help to farmers regarding the proper use of water, manure and pesticides. It will not only bring down the input costs but will ensure Indian farmers’ greater partnership in global market.

Friends,

The government efforts will bear fruits only when scientists and researchers find affordable solutions to make perishable vegetables more sustainable. Given the challenges of the coming decades, we will need to find solutions for productivity, affordability and fair price to farmers.

We will need to prepare seeds which use less water and are also more nutritive and should have longer life and productivity. We should ensure that the cost of the seed is also low and the input cost associated with it is also not too high.

Your suggestions and solutions for better utilization of modern bio-technology, Artificial Intelligence, Block Chain, Drone Technology, etc will also be important.

Friends,

Given the usefulness of potatoes, time has come to prepare a new policy and research agenda to promote potato sub sector. At the core of this policy and agenda should be the fight against hunger and poverty and global food security.

All of you are capable of doing this. It is because of your efforts that the situation which arose in Europe and America following the 19th century potato disease did not recur.

A huge and collective responsibility rests on your shoulders, be it farmers, businessmen, scientists, progressive traders, or those working in the field of food processing to ensure that nobody should remain hungry and malnourished in the 21st century. I am hopeful that you will have serious discussions in the next three days.

Once again, I am grateful to you for visiting India and Gujarat. I also thank the agriculture department for holding this summit away from Delhi. I can visualize the success of this programme as you plan to take people not only from our country but different parts of the world for direct interaction with farmers. Once again, I welcome you to Gujarat and hope you have comfortable stay here. I once again express my gratitude to you with a desire that you enjoy the wonderful hospitality of Gujarat, visit the places associated with Gandhiji, take memories of the Statue of Unity with you. Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan.

Thank you.