Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 29 effected a country-wide launch here of 10,000 Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), aimed at providing small farmers a platform to collectively tackle their challenges right from accessing various agricultural inputs to marketing their produce.
These FPOs will turn farmers into businessmen, said Prime Minister Modi after effecting the launch of the novel cooperative platforms for farmers, 86 percent of which fall into small and marginal category, each having less than 1.1 hectare of landholding.
"Moments ago 10,000 FPOs were launched. They will work to increase farmers' income and empower them," he said.
Exuding confidence that the project will ensure a better future for farmers, he said farmers were only producer till now but through the FPOs, they will now be able to negotiate the price of their produce with traders and do business.
While talking of possible positive changes that FPOs, he hoped, would usher in farmers' lives, the prime minister also urged the audience not to rush back after the programme, and visit the exhibition of successful FPOs instead.
"I saw the exhibition. My heart swelled after seeing how our farmers work. You must visit and see what wonders they have created through FPOs in their states," Modi said.
Underlining his government's commitment to farmers' welfare, the prime minister said be it the decision on minimum support price of crops or soil health card or neem coating of urea and completing the irrigation projects pending over decades, his government has worked at every level for the betterment of farmers' lives.
"It is an important milestone in the journey of increasing farmers' income," he said.
Referring to the PM-KISAN Yojana, which completed one year today, he said, "Attempts were made to raise doubts a year ago, when the scheme was launched. But, in a short time span, almost 8.50 crore farmers' families have got a total of Rs 50,000 crore directly in their bank accounts.
"Nearly Rs 12,000 crore has been deposited in accounts of over two crore farmers' families in UP itself," he added.
"Can you imagine that Rs 50,000 crore have been deposited directly in farmers' bank accounts in a single year and, that too, without any broker and without any discrimination?" Prime Minister Modi asked.
The beneficiaries of PM-KISAN are now being linked to the PM Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and the PM Jeevan Suraksha Bima Yojana, he said, adding efforts are also on to link beneficiaries of PM-KISAN with Kisan Credit Card.
The prime minister also said a 16-point programme has been made in this year's budget to increase farmers' income.
"The policies pertaining to farmers have been continuously given new direction by our government. Efforts are being made to ensure that farmers' capital cost comes down, productivity goes up and they get a fair price for their produce. For this, a number of decisions were taken," he said.
The prime minister also talked of his government's efforts to bring agricultural markets closer to farming fields.
"In coming times, grameen haat (village markets) will become new centres of agriculture economy," he said, adding that FPOs would impart collective bargaining power to farmers and help them secure a fair price for their produce.
The prime minister also talked of his government's plan to enhance the spread of FPOs to the block levels, specially in tribal regions and "100 aspirational districts" like Chitrakoot.
"This was the Gandhiji's 'parikalpanaa' (vision) of 'gram swaraj'," he said.
The prime minister began his address with a reference to Chitrakoot's mythological importance.
"It was Chitrakoot where Lord Ram stayed along with Goddess Sita and his brother Lakshman during their exile. Chitrakoot is not just a place but a 'sankalpsthali' and 'tapsthali' of India's ancient social life," the prime minister said.
"This soil has installed values of dignity among Indians," he said, while also paying tributes to Bharat Ratna Nanaji Deshmukh.