Govt to focus on more access to irrigation, innovations for farmers

With an eye on improving farm productivity and farmers' income, the union agriculture ministry is taking steps to expand irrigation infrastructure and take success stories from the lab to land.


The ministry aims to increase agriculture's contribution to GDP from the current 14 per cent.


In a media interaction over dinner on Tuesday evening, Union Minister of Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh said his government has taken various steps over the past seven months to address a wide range of issues in the sector.


"About 60 per cent of the farmers who do not get water to irrigate fields are small and marginal farmers. We will make sure that water availability to them gets priority," he said.


The Prime Minister's Krishi Sichai Yojana is under finalisation. An amount of Rs 1,000 crore has been allocated for this purpose during 2014-15. The government will involve blocks and districts to draw up region-specific irrigation schemes.


Another focus area of the government is analysing the soil health of farm holdings. "A farmer should be aware of the basic characteristics of the soil in his land. This will help him to use inputs such as fertilisers in an informed and efficient manner so that productivity is improved," said Singh. The government is working towards issuing health cards to about 145 million landed farmers and an amount of Rs 568 crore has been allocated. The exercise of analysing soil health with be carried out after a gap of every three years so that soil health is improved and nutrient imbalance due to overdose of urea is addressed.


The government will set up a hundred mobile soil testing labs at an investment of Rs 56 crore.


Singh said that many successful innovations take place in agricultural research institutes to increase yield but they do not reach the farm due to lack of infrastructure and manpower.


"The government has increased the number of extension workers at block level from 18,000 to 26,000. These workers will spread awareness of the innovations among farmers through the Krishi Vigyan Kendra at district level".

The Minister also said the government is in the process of finalising an insurance scheme for the farmers to protect them in events of a crop failure.


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