Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Mann ki Baat address on Sunday lauded farmers in India for showing “tremendous resilience” and their innovative entrepreneurial efforts during the COVID-19 crisis. He highlighted the inspiring story of a woman entrepreneur from Manipur and lauded her innovative efforts in developing thread from lotus stem.
Bijay Shanti from Manipur has launched a start-up that develops thread from the lotus stem.
“Her efforts and innovations have opened new avenues in the fields of lotus farming and textile,” the prime minister said.
Modi said that in recent years, the agriculture sector has tried to break free from many myths and cited the example of Kanwar Chauhan, a farmer from Haryana, who used to face great difficulties in marketing his fruits and vegetables outside the mandi. But in 2014, fruits and vegetables were excluded from the APMC Act, which greatly benefited him.
Chauhan formed a Farmer Producer’s Organization and farmers in his village now cultivate sweet corn and baby corn and supply produce directly to Azadpur Mandi in Delhi, to big retail chains and Five Star Hotels, which has substantially boosted their income.
Modi said these farmers have the power to sell their fruits and vegetables, anywhere and to anyone, which is the foundation of their progress, and now the same has been imparted to farmers all over the country, for the entire spectrum of their produce.
The PM also cited the benefits accruing to farmers due to exclusion of fruits and vegetables from APMC purview by sharing the example of Sri Swami Samarth Farm Producer Company Ltd - a Farmer Producer’s Organization in Maharashtra. He noted that farmers in Pune and Mumbai are running weekly markets and selling directly without middlemen.
Modi then mentioned Tamil Nadu Banana farmer produce company, a collective of farmers, which purchased hundreds of metric tons of vegetables, fruits and bananas from nearby villages during the lockdown, and supplied a vegetable combo kit to Chennai. He mentioned the ‘Irada Farmer Producer’ group from Lucknow which, during the lockdown, procured fruits and vegetables directly from the cultivators' fields, and sold directly in the markets of Lucknow, free from the middlemen.
Innovations and application of new techniques will boost agriculture growth in the country, the prime minister emphasised. He cited the example of Ismail Bhai, a farmer from Gujarat, who took up farming despite being discouraged by his family. He cultivated potatoes using drip irrigation technology - the high quality potatoes are now his hallmark, which he sells directly to large companies without middlemen, and earns huge profits, the prime minister added