28 October 2021, New Delhi: Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh today addressed 75,000 farmers from 75 Aspirational Districts to commemorate the 75th year of India’s independence at a mega event “Farmers-Scientists Connect Meet”.
This was the first of its kind event in the country where farmers freely interacted with the leading scientists in agriculture sciences and technologies to adopt best farm practices and increase the farm output. It was organized jointly by DBT and Biotech-KISAN Hub at ICAR-IARI, PUSA, New Delhi under “AzadiKaAmritMahotsav” celebrations.
Dr Jitendra Singh assured the farmers that the unique initiative of the Government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to find Science-based Agricultural Innovations will not only double the farmers’ income but will also make India the leading Agricultural and Scientific Power in the World, when it turns 100 after 25 years of AmritKaal Journey.
Referring to Prime Minister’s top most priority for farm and allied sectors, the Minister said, this is the golden period of Agriculture happening in India under the Modi Government, where a series of novel initiatives have been taken for the welfare of farmers in the last seven years. He said, welfare schemes like PM KisanMaandhanYojana, PM FasalBimaYojana, PM KisanSamman, Soil Health Card, Neem Coated Urea, e-Nam to name a few have truly revolutionized agriculture and farm production. The pro-farmer schemes and programmes have also empowered the Agriculture Sector financially & resourcefully, besides giving esteem and respect to the farmers which was lacking earlier, he added.
The Minister said that the Biotech-KISAN is a scientist-farmer partnership scheme launched by Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in 2017 for agriculture innovation with an objective to connect science laboratories with the farmers to find out innovative solutions and technologies to be applied at farm level. He said, the establishment of Biotech-KISAN Hubs in different agro-climatic zones will strengthen and empower the KrishiVigyanKendras (KVKs) with latest and innovative technologies by linking them with national scientific labs and institutions.
Dr Jitendra Singh informed that a total number of 36 Biotech-KISAN Hubs have been established so far, covering all 15 agro-climatic zones in the country and their activities implemented in a total 169 districts including 112 Aspirational Districts. He said, the scheme has benefitted over three lakhs farmers so far by increasing their agriculture output and income. Over 200 entrepreneurships have also been developed in rural areas.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, DBT has also planned to establish a network of Biotech-KISAN Hubs in North Eastern Region as well as in other Himalayan states such as Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand under its special programmes. He said that the proposals have been already developed and finalized for establishing 15 Biotech-KISAN Hubs in the North Eastern Region. Similarly, it is planned to establish at least a similar number of Biotech-KISAN Hubs in other Himalayan states, the Minister added.
The DBT has also taken steps to use Biotech-KISAN Hubs as test beds for testing, validating and demonstration of various innovative technologies at farmers’ level, which are developed by various other organizations such as BIRAC, ICAR, CSIR, DST, etc. The programme also provides support for conducting training programmes for farmers in laboratories of scientific research institutions and immersion of scientists in agriculture farms to better understand the problems of farmers at ground level and find solutions for the same.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, this programme will be working on the basis of cluster approach for economic uplift of small and marginal farmers, rural youths and woman by infusion of biotechnology-based solutions in agriculture and allied sectors, development of bio-based agri-enterprises in rural areas based on affordable technologies and providing support to them. He said, each Hub will create a network by developing strong linkages with top quality scientific institutions / State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) / KrishiVigyanKendras (KVKs) / existing state agriculture extension services / system and other Farmers’ organizations in the region as well as linkages with leading international institutions / organizations.
Senior DBT officials informed that the significant achievements of the programme since inception include: revival of grass pea cultivation and its popularization amongst farmers of Bihar, utilization of rice fallows for enhancing pulse production in North Coastal Andhra Pradesh, empowerment of women farmers through scientific goat and sheep rearing in Sundarbans, promotion and popularization of good agricultural practices (GAPs) for seed spice cultivation amongst farmers of Western Rajasthan for getting premium price for agriculture produce, scientific pig rearing for livelihood improvement of tribal farmers of Meghalaya, production of quality planting material (QPM) of Malbhog variety of banana and its cultivation in Assam, promotion of conservation agriculture practices in rice-wheat and soybean-wheat cropping system in the state of Madhya Pradesh, etc.
Dr Jitendra Singh complemented the scientists associated with this unique programme and thanked all the farmers and farmers’ groups for joining the Biotech-KISAN movement of DBT and hoped that adoption of technologies will lead to enhancing the farmers’ income.