Climate change big challenge for entire ecosystem; need to step up efforts: Modi
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said climate change is a big challenge not only for the farm sector but also for the entire ecosystem, and efforts needed to be stepped up to address the problem.
Modi called for collective efforts and continuous intensive research to deal with the climate change, which is adversely impacting the output of agriculture and allied sectors, thereby causing huge losses to farmers.
The prime minister was addressing farmers and other stakeholders through video conferencing after launching 35 new crop varieties with special traits to address climate change and malnutrition.
In the last six-seven years, science and technology are being used on a priority basis to solve the challenges related to agriculture, he said, adding that the joint efforts of farmers and scientists will give better results.
Modi also said that modern technology and new farming tools are at the core of future farming and stressed on use of drones and sensors to collect high-quality farm data and real-time solutions.
During the virtual ceremony, Modi also inaugurated the newly-constructed campus of the National Institute of Biotic Stress Tolerance, Raipur. He also distributed the ‘Green Campus Award’ to agricultural universities and interacted with five farmers who are using innovative methods.
“Indian agriculture has always remained scientific. The synergy between agriculture and science should continue as it is important for India in 21st century,” Modi said in his address.
“Our focus is very high on more nutritious seeds, adaptable to new conditions, especially in changing climate,” he said, adding that 35 new crop varieties will address the problem of climate change and help in the government campaign to make India malnutrition free.
Expressing concern over challenges of climate change, Modi said, “Not only agriculture, climate change is a big challenge to the entire ecosystem.”
Due to climate change, new types of pests, new diseases, epidemics are emerging. Because of which, there is a big threat to the health of humans and livestock and crops are also being affected, he said.
Further, climate change has an impact on fish production and animal health and output. As a result, farmers and fishermen have to bear the losses, he added.
The prime minister recalled massive locust attacks in various states last year in the midst of the Corona pandemic and said the country tackled the locust attack by making a lot of efforts and saved farmers from incurring huge damages.
“Everyone’s efforts are needed to protect agriculture from the impact of climate change. … Intensive research on these aspects is necessary continuously,” Modi said.
When science, government and society work together, the results will be better. Joint efforts of farmers and scientists will increase the strength of the country in dealing with new challenges, he said and added that the campaign launched to promote climate resilient crop varieties is apt now as there is a need to strike a balance between “back to basics” (traditional farming) and ‘march towards future.’
He noted that India’s traditional agriculture had all the protection to deal with the challenges faced currently.
India agriculture was multi-cultured but gradually converted into monoculture as farmers started to harvest single crops because of various reasons, he said, and asserted, “We need to change this.”
Stating that modern technology and new farming tools are at the core of future farming, he said, “We need to keep modernising the ecosystem from seed to market currently being created by the government. …Efforts to promote modern agricultural machines and equipment are showing results today.”
However, the use of drones and sensors has to be enhanced to get high quality farm data and real-time solutions, Modi said and added the new drone policy would help the agriculture sector.
Modi further said that there is a need to take modern agri-science to every village and every household. Agri-research should be part of the syllabus of middle school, for which steps have been taken in the National Education Policy.
He also spoke about the role of start-ups in taking technology to villages.
Stressing that the farm sector grows rapidly when farmers are given a safety net, the prime minister listed out schemes implemented in the last few years for the growth of the farm sector.
More than 430 lakh tonnes of wheat has been procured in the 2020-21 Rabi marketing season and farmers have been paid more than Rs 85,000 crore, he said and added wheat procurement centres were increased more than three times during the pandemic.
Under the PM-KISAN scheme, over Rs 1.5 lakh crore has been transferred directly into bank accounts of over 11 crore farmers. Kisan credit cards to over 2 crore farmers have been provided, he said.
He also spoke about various changes made in crop insurance scheme PMFBY and said that claims of around Rs 1 lakh crore have been settled. Farmers are getting timely updates of weather information.
Modi said that steps taken to create a seeds-to-market ecosystem will ensure the country’s strong economic growth.
“The works done in the last 6-7 years for the farmers and agriculture sector have laid a strong foundation for achieving national goals for the next 25 years when India will celebrate 100 years of Independence.”
He also said that the government is making efforts to take farmers out of crop-based income and encourage them towards value-addition and other farming options.
Modi stressed on the need to promote Indian millets at global level ahead of the International Year of Millets in 2023 declared by the UN.
The demand for millets is rising. There is a need to raise awareness and further develop millets with solutions from science and research, he said and urged states to set up a task force to take Indian millers to the international market.
Sharing works undertaken in the farm sector as Gujarat Chief Minister, Modi said he knew that agriculture is a state subject and tried to fulfill his responsibilities as CM then.
“We all know that agriculture is a state subject. It is often being said that the centre should not do anything about it as it is a state subject..,” he said, and highlighted the advancement Gujarat made in the agriculture sector when he was chief minister.
Modi also interacted with five farmers from different states. They include: Saitoon Begum from Ganderabal district (Jammu and Kashmir), Darshan Pedenkar from Bardez (Goa) , Kulwant Singh from Bulandshahr (Uttar Pradesh), Thoiba Singh from Thouba (Manipur), besides Suresh Rana from Udham Singh Nagar (Uttarakhand).