Indore: Jai Kisan Farm Loan Waiver Scheme is a feather in the cap of Nath government as it has helped check farmers’ suicide. “Over 10 lakh farmers were included in the scheme. As a result, incidence of farmers’ suicide has stopped in the state,” said young and dynamic agriculture development minister Sachin Subhash Yadav. In an exclusive interview with Free Press on Wednesday, he talked about taking farming to the next level and lowering the input cost. Reiterating his government’s commitment of working towards the betterment of the son of the soil, he shed light on every issue of farmers, including traditional, organic and advanced farming, in an elaborate manner.
Q. How Jai Kisan Loan Waiver Scheme benefits the farmers?
A. As it is a comprehensive scheme, we are implementing it in a phased manner. In the first phase we waived farm loan of about 20 lakh farmers worth Rs 7,000 crore. We have now rolled-out second phase, incorporating farmers with farm loan ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh. All those who could not benefit in the first phase owing to technical reasons too will be included in this phase. Biggest achievement of the scheme is that we have been able to stop farmers’ suicides in the state.
Q. Farm loan waiver can’t be a permanent solution. What is your plan to double farmers’ income?
A. I agree. Our Chief Minister Kamal Nath ji too feels the same. We have helped farmers who were debarred from further loans owing to unpaid dues. The number of such farmers is around 10 lakh. These farmers were susceptible to suicide. We are working towards reducing cost of farming. We have already halved power bills of farmers. We want to encourage cow-oriented farming. Cow is worshipped for its utility in farming. Its byproducts too are useful in farming. Chemical fertilizers raise cost of farming. Cow-oriented farming will reduce the cost. In this way, we will turn farming into a lucrative business.
Q. Despite bumper harvest, state lacks value addition facility. What initiative is being taken by the state government to encourage food processing?
A. Value addition to produce is the need of the hour. We will not be able to double farmers’ income till there is value addition to their produce. We are already working towards it. In near future, we will offer facilities like sorting and grading at mandis as primary level processing. Leaders of food processing industry will be brought to mandis for direct interaction with farmers. Cluster scheme in every district will encourage horticulture. The produce will be identified for branding and linked to market. We have already launched CM Food Processing & Horticulture Scheme to train sons of farmers and budding entrepreneurs. A pilot project is being launched in Pawarkheda in Hoshangabad. Around 2.5 acre would be made available at subsided rates with polynet-shednet and enough irrigation facility for horticulture. After feedback from this project, the scheme will be expanded to the entire state.
Q. Organic farming is considered the future. But high pricing of products is a major hurdle. Your plan to promote it?
A. There are various myths about organic farming. We are conducting an awareness drive to re-introduce traditional techniques of organic farming. We are helping them recall how to make manure from cow dung and vermin-compost and reconnect them with traditional way of farming. We are also trying to dispel the myth that quantity of produce is quite low in organic farming. Besides, organic farming also cuts down the cost.