Expressing concern over the problem of stubble burning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today the central government was working seriously to ensure farmers were not compelled to burn agricultural residue.
"I want to talk about the important issue of stubble burning from this platform. The central government is working seriously on this issue so that farmers are not compelled to burn agricultural residue after harvesting," Modi told a farmers' rally here in the Malwa belt of Punjab.
"Out of the total allocation, more than half is focussed on Punjab," he said.
The government is giving an assistance of 50 per cent to farmers for purchase of machines required to handle crop residue, he said. Urging farmers to avail benefits of this scheme, Modi said it would not only improve land fertility, but also provide respite from pollution.
Modi appealed to farmers not to burn the crop residue keeping in mind the health aspects also.
"As per an estimate, if farmers don't burn stubble and allow crop residue to remain on the fields, they can save on expenditure to the tune of Rs 2,000 per hectare on fertilisers," he said.
Stubble burning post-harvest season has been a major concern in north India. It has led to severe air pollution in the National Capital Region and neighbouring areas in the past few years forcing authorities to take measures to tackle the problem.
At the rally here, Modi said the steep hike in the range of Rs 200 to Rs 1800 in the MSP of 14 Kharif crops, including wheat, cotton, bajra, maize, ground nut and sunflower, would benefit Punjab in a big way.
"Be it farmers of the state or those of Haryana, Rajasthan, they are set to gain in a big way," the prime minister said.
Modi spoke a few sentences in Punjabi to develop rapport with his audience.
He said Malout was famous for its rich cotton harvest. The government has effected hike in the MSP of cotton and other crops, he pointed out.
Modi said the expenditure on labour, farm implements, seeds, fertilisers, irrigation was factored in the input costs while deciding on the minimum support price (MSP).
The prime minister said his government ensured that farmers get good quality seeds.
"Our government has been successful in bringing over 800 new varieties of seeds as against 450 by the previous government," he said.
Wheat production has increased by 300 per cent due to better quality of seeds, he added.
The government is making efforts to take care of farmers from the time they purchase the seeds till they sell the produce, he said.
During Congress rule, there was severe scarcity of urea which is easily available now, he said. As many as 15 crore soil health cards have been issued to farmers across the country, Modi said.
Our government approved setting up of 9000 labs for soil testing, the previous government had set up only 40-45, he said.
Not only in Punjab, but farmers across all states are going to benefit from the schemes introduced by the Centre, he said.
Talking about success of 'eNAM', he said farmers can now sell their produce through internet as 575 mandis have been connected online. Punjab's 15 mandis are on eNAM, he said.
This scheme is going to save farmers from middlemen, he said.
Punjab has always been at the forefront of new practices in agriculture, he said and lauded the state for green revolution, blue revolution, milk revolution and honey revolution.
To double the income of the farmers, stress is being laid not just on traditional farming but also on allied activities like organic farming, bee keeping, animal husbandry and fishery, he said.
Terming cancer a serious problem in the Malwa region of Punjab, he said an AIIMS was being set up at Bathinda. Modi asked the Punjab government to expedite works related to the prestigious project.
The Centre is committed to provide affordable healthcare to the poor, Modi said.
He said that 50 crore poor people will be entitled to free treatment of upto Rs five lakh per year under a scheme.
Invoking Guru Nanak Dev, Modi said the next year his 550th birth anniversary will be celebrated. The Guru's life and teachings continue to inspire and guide us, he added.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)