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    Modi pitches for organic and natural farming

  • Date : 16 August, 2022

     Organic and natural farming were an important path to make India Atma Nirbhar (self-reliant) because of their potential to cut down costly fertiliser imports, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his Independence Day speech. 

    The prime minister added that research and innovation were key to finding solutions in every field, including farming, which is still the largest source of livelihood. Nearly half of all Indians depend on agriculture for income. 
    Cutting-edge innovation will spur all-round development, he said. In his characteristic style, he said research and development needed a new push, coining a new slogan. 
    He recalled former PM Lal Bahadur Shastri’s slogan of “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan”, which he said was “still a great source of inspiration”. “Later, Atal Bihari Vajpayee added ‘Jai Vigyaan’ to this slogan and the country gave primacy to it. Now, there is a necessity to add ‘Jai Anusandhan (research and innovation). Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Vigyaan aur Jai Anusandhan (hail the soldier, farmer, science, and innovation),” Modi said. 
    "We have to cut the use of chemical fertilizers. Today, nano fertilizers offer new hope but natural farming and chemical-free farming can boost Aatma Nirbhar Bharat,” Modi said, adding Atma Nirbhar India was “not merely a government programme” but a “collective national campaign”. 
    “Today natural farming is a path to Atma Nirbharta. Natural farming, chemical-free farming can add to the strength of our country. Natural farming can bring down fertiliser costs. Chemical-free farming and organic farming is our duty,” Modi said. Small farmers can especially benefit from natural farming, the PM added. 
    The Union government’s fertiliser subsidy outlay for the current fiscal year could reach ?2.10 lakh crore because of high commodity and oil prices due to the war in Ukraine, according to industry estimates. This will be the highest-ever spending on fertiliser subsidy. India imports almost all of its potassium chloride fertiliser requirements, while the import component in di-ammonium phosphate is around half the annual consumption. 
    Modi has rolled out an extensive programme to expand palm-oil plantations in various states, especially the Northeast, to cut the country’s heavy reliance on import of costly edible oils. In August 2021, the Union Cabinet approved a programme to promote oil-palm plantations in the Andamans and the Northeast, which ecologists have disputed because these plantations have proven to environmentally ruinous in many countries. 
    India’s demand has made it the world’s largest importer of vegetable oils, a base ingredient for cooking most common dishes. The country meets up to two-thirds of its domestic demand through imports. During 2020-21, India imported both crude and refined palm oil worth $5.8 billion. Edible oil is the country’s third most high-value import, after petroleum crude and gold. 
    The prime minister said the hard work of millions of small peasants had been critical for the country’s food security. “The hard work of our small farmers, who till small, small parcels of land, results in the production of our cereals. Today, the world is celebrating the ‘international year of millets’ which is our heritage,” Modi said. The UN has adopted the international year of millet, being celebrated globally, at the formal request of India. 
    Speaking on the sugar industry, the PM referred to the country’s ethanol blending programme. “The target of 10% ethanol blending appeared to be very big. Our past experience said this may not be possible but the country has achieved this target before schedule.” 
    On June 5, 2021, Modi had announced the advancing of the target year for 20% ethanol-blending by five years to 2025. The Union food ministry prepared a blueprint towards achieving this goal. 
    The ethanol blending programme is a big component of India’s self-reliance campaign. Mixing of petrol with ethanol, which is made from molasses, a byproduct of sugar, will help lessen the amount of oil India imports. Ethanol can also be produced from rice and maize. India is the third-largest oil consumer in the world after the US and China. Its crude oil import bill was well over $100 billion in 2018-19 and 2019-20. 
    The prime minister also called for efficient agriculture based on water-saving agricultural practices. “It is the responsibility of the government to provide water to every farm. However, every farm has to go forward on the principle of ‘per drop more crop’.” 
    Source: Economic Times


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