Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for the development of climate change resilient seed varieties and digital agriculture tools to protect the interests of small farmers who constitute 80 per cent of the farming community in the country.
Asking ICRISAT and ICAR (Indian Council for Agricultural Research) to work on sustainable and diversified production systems for farmers in the semi-arid tropics, he said the adverse impact of climate change was felt most on small farmers. “We should go back to the basics while marching towards the future to protect our farmers from climate challenges,” he said.
Addressing a gathering at the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Modi said climate action was a focus area in the latest Budget. It was looking at a ‘green future’ in all sectors.
Earlier, the Prime Minister inaugurated the golden jubilee celebrations of ICRISAT and opened a climate change research and development facility on plant protection, and a RapidGen facility that will significantly cut the time needed to develop seed varieties.
He also launched a special logo and a commemorative stamp to mark the golden jubilee of the institute. The Prime Minister asked ICRISAT, ICAR and agricultural universities to jointly work on biofuel crops that suit the requirements of small farmers.
Stating that the country has set a target of net zero emissions by 2070, the Prime Minister said the nation should learn from past practices. The future of Indian agriculture lay in embracing digital technologies. “From crop assessment to spraying pesticides and inputs using drones — digital technologies and artificial intelligence would play a key role. I expect the youth to play a significant role in this,” he said.
The country was focusing on inclusive growth along with higher agriculture growth during the Amrit Kaal, he said. The government has started a national mission for achieving self-reliance in edible oils. “We are going to develop oil palm in 6.5 lakh acres,” he said. He said that the government was developing post-harvest infrastructure, including creating cold chain storage capacity of 35 million tonnes. “We wish to create an alert and potent market force out of small farmer by organising them into thousands of farmer producer organisations,” said Modi.