In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Agriculture Minister of Rajasthan Prabhu Lal Saini talks on various issues related to agriculture and practices and specially about Rajasthan, which was once known for its dunes is now recognised by the pace of its agricultural growth in India
On the milieu of aggressive protests by farmers’ and desperate attempts by state governments to pacify their protest. Rajasthan remains to be a state with somewhat controlled agriculture policy. In the recent past, Rajasthan has emerged as a state with better outputs in terms of agrarian economy.
In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Agriculture Minister of Rajasthan Prabhu Lal Saini talks on various issues related to agriculture and practices and specially about Rajasthan, which was once known for its dunes is now recognised by the pace of its agricultural growth in India.
How the farmers’ producer organisations (FPO) are performing in Rajasthan?
I am very happy as they are performing brilliantly. More than one lakh farmers are already in touch with such FPO’s. They produce in whatever little quantities but they usually collect it at one place and do the marketing on their own. This is really very helpful as they are able to get a good response from collective effort.
How will you tackle the situation, if there will be over production?
This was among the key driving factors to take initiative of Global Rajasthan Agritech Meet (GRAM) we train farmers to learn crop diversification and we have given them idea of installing processing units as well.
Production-based on demand can let farmer manage overproduction, for instance, we had 30 lakh hectare of pulses cultivation this year, one of the highest among nation, best idea is to let the farmers manage it themselves. The government of Rajasthan promotes spice and vegetable export. We give them Rs four and Rs six incentive, respectively, on every kilogram of vegetable or spice exported.
What will be your share in National Agricultural Growth rate?
We have a better share than overall national average, it is 26 per cent. Niti Ayog had appreciated us for marketing and indigenous techniques. When Niti Ayog issued ranking, we came only next to Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Pace of our agriculture growth has no match.
How did you get the Idea of practicing different techniques to promote agriculture in Rajasthan?
I have been an admirer of former Prime Minister of India- Lal Bahadur Shastri, he gave a famous slogan of ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ but none was willing to give it due attention. There were many wasted efforts to activate integrated-farming techniques, paper given to farmers for training were a waste and did not return results. There were the exposure tours with farmer delegations to Israel and South-Australia which really helped us, they educated us about crop diversification and protective farming. We came back and implemented few of those techniques that protects crop from different climatic conditions. It was an effort in thirty three thousand hectare land and some farmers have succeeded in earning two to eight lakh rupees of income in just few thousand yards. It was then our duty to communicate it to farmers of our state. That is why we do innovative things like we had organized Global Rajasthan Agritech Meet (GRAM) in 2016 at Jaipur and in 2017 at Kota. GRAM is the result of such efforts.
Agricultural marketing appeared as the prime focus area of such events. How are you training farmers for marketing, It is the most sensitive spot in entire agrarian economy of India?
There is central government’s “Electronic National Agricultural Market (e-NAM) scheme”, we are working hand in hand with this scheme and we have already covered some 25 markets under it. Apart from e-NAM we have started Rajasthan Integrated Mandi Management System in 100 other mandi’s. We took few steps before central government had even suggested them. Farmers were allowed to go for direct marketing, we have made few amendments in the present act. These are the steps we are taking to train farmers and we will look forward for improvisation.
What is you view on use of transgenic seed, as edible oil imports do consume a large part of expenses? Why few governments are adamant for not using the GM seed, even if it is made in India?
We use GM seeds due to two reasons, either to increase productivity or to get a potential insecticide resistance on them. We already have a parental mustard seed with both the qualities; I don’t want a parental seed to be disturbed. East India Company had also done the same in India; I don’t want to get dependent on any company. Technically it is the subject of the state to decide the use.
International reports’ have raised concerns for Indian farmers with small and marginal land holdings, is your government doing something towards this?
Small and marginal land holder farmers’ are around 68.88 per cent in Rajasthan. I have tried my best to have a mechanism where acquisition of their land will become a tough and transparent task for industries. If it will be important to go for acquisitions, I will look into it that “Farmers’ will get the right amount of money for their land, after all this is the moment for agriculture”.
Source: BW Businessworld