PM assures farmers on agri reforms, says govt committed to their welfare

As farmers vowed to expand their protests over new farm laws, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday assured them that his government was committed to their welfare and that the legislations were aimed at giving them alternate markets to boost income
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Without directly referring to the farmers' agitation, which entered the 17th day on Saturday, Prime Minister Modi said that agriculture reforms are part of government efforts aimed at removing roadblocks, and the new laws will bring in technology and investment in the sector.

The government, PM Modi said, is committed to protecting the interest and welfare of farmers through its policies and actions.

"Reforms will help draw investment in the agriculture sector and benefit farmers. The aim of all government reforms is to make farmers prosperous," PM Modi said at an annual meeting of industry body FICCI here.

The new legislations, which were approved in the previous Parliament session, give farmers an additional option outside of the designated mandis to buy or sell their crops. 

"Farmers have now options to sell their crops in mandis as well as to outside parties. While mandis are being modernised, digital platform is also available to farmers to buy and sell their produce. These efforts are aimed at raising incomes of farmers," the PM Modi added. 

Hundreds of farmers from states like Punjab and Haryana have blocked some of the highways leading to Delhi borders for more than two weeks now against the new farm laws which they fear will prompt the government to stop making direct crop purchases at minimum state-set prices, called minimum support price (MSP).

The government has so far refused to heed to their demand but has promised to continue the MSP-based procurement.

The three new laws remove restrictions on marketing farm products and allow cultivators to engage with private companies to sell their crops. This, the government says, allows farmers an alternate avenue to sell crops, raising their income and is aimed at making farming more competitive.

PM Modi said the government has taken several initiatives to strengthen the agricultural sector.

"Today the agricultural sector has become more vibrant than the past," he said

He said rural India is growing faster than urban centres in certain aspects of the economy and offers a prime market for investors.

"More than 50 percent of the startups is in Tier II and Tier III cities and as many as 98 per cent villages are connected with PM Gramin Sadak Yojana. Now people in villages are getting connected to bazaar, school and hospital. The aspiration of people living in the villages are growing and they want social economic mobility. The government from its side is working hard to fulfil these aspirations," he said.

The recent launch of PM WANI project will provide public Wi-Fi services in entire country and connectivity would improve in villages.

"I would request industries to utilise this platform to participate in improvement of connectivity in rural and semi-rural area," he said.

Modi said the growth of 21st century would be supported by villages and small towns and so entrepreneurs should look to invest in these places. "They should not miss the opportunity. The investment made by you will open new avenues for people in the villages. The government is committed to protect the interest of farmers through its policies and intentions," he said. 

Edited by Anju Narayanan

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