Online agricultural market’s launch to benefit farmers: Modi

Bhopal, Feb 18 (IANS) The government will launch on April 14 an online national agricultural market to ensure remunerative prices for farm produce to the farmers across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday.

Plans were also afoot to connect 550 farmer markets in the country through the use of technology, Modi said while formally launching the ‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana’ at a farmers’ rally at Sherpur in Sihore district of Madhya Pradesh.

The national agricultural market was part of the government aim to provide the benefits of the ‘Digital India’ initiative to the country’s farmers, he said.

The launch of the virtual platform to benefit farmers will coincide with the birth anniversary of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, he said.

Giving details of the programmes and schemes for the farmers launched by the BJP-led central government, he said the national agricultural market will provide a platform so that the farmers get the maximum price for their produce.

He pointed out that the prices of various farm produce varied in different markets in the country but the farmers sold their yield at the nearest available market.

This resulted in unremunerative prices to the farmers, which was sought to be redressed by the virtual platform of national agricultural market, Modi said.

The prime minister said the ‘Digital India’ initiative would also help the farmers by giving them access to information on the best price offered for farm produce on their mobile phones in an instant.

He said the Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme, launched by the government last month, will be a panacea for all problems faced by the farmers.

“Farmers did not believe in the crop insurance policies of the previous United Progressive Alliance government. It is the main reason that not even 20 percent farmers in the country opted for crop insurance. We have now come up with this scheme keeping in mind the lack of interest among farmers.”

Taking a dig at the previous UPA government at the Centre, the prime minister said that the earlier insurance schemes benefitted the companies and not farmers. The new crop insurance scheme will definitely benefit the farmers in the country, he added.

As for the availability of urea fertiliser in the country, Modi said it was due to government initiatives that no chief minister wrote to the central government on the matter in 2015. Farmers too did not need to queue up to procure urea.

The prime minister honoured Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan with ‘Krishi Karman’ award. Modi was also felicitated on the occasion on behalf of the state’s farmers.

Speaking on the occasion, union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said those who could not differentiate between a sugar cane and a legume plant were talking of farmers’ welfare.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who was also present on the occasion, said after the implementation of the new crop insurance scheme, no farmer will talk of leaving agriculture for better avenues of earning livelihood.

The union cabinet in January gave its nod to the ‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana’ in which premiums are as low as 1.5 percent.

A uniform premium of two percent of the sum insured will be charged from farmers for all kharif crops and 1.5 percent for rabi crops. The annual premium for horticultural crops will be five percent of the sum insured. The remaining insurance premium will be given by the government.

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