Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for the development of climate change resilient seed varieties and digital agriculture tools to protect the interests of smallholder farmers who constitute 80 per cent of the farming community in the country.

Back to basics

Asking ICRISAT and ICAR to work on sustainable and diversified production systems for farmers in the semi-arid tropics, he said that the adverse impact of climate change was more accentuated 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) here on Saturday, he said climate action had been given a huge focus in the recent Union Budget. The Budget focussed on ‘green future’ in all sectors.

Earlier, he kicked off the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the institute and inaugurated a climate change research and development facility on plant protection, and a RapidGen facility which significantly cuts the time needed to develop seed varieties. He launched a special logo and 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.

Digital agriculture

Stating that the country has set a target of net zero emissions by 2070, the Prime Minister said the country should learn from past practices. The future of Indian agriculture lied 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 play a significant role in this,” he said.

He added that the country was focussing on inclusive growth along with higher agriculture growth during the Amrit Kaal.

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,” Modi said.

He added that the government was in the process of 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.”

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