Recalling the example of Goods & Services Tax (GST) as a good instance of cooperative federalism, Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said that an even better instancewhich would benefit the nation even more would be cooperative federalism in the agricultural sector.
Addressing the 37th foundation day commemoration seminar on Collectivisation and Market Linkages: Farmer Producer Organisations held here via video-conferencing, he said that cooperation between Centre and states in the federal model would lead to an optimum utilisation of central and state finances deployed towards agriculture.
He asked NABARD to reflect on this suggestion and said that this would take the country closer to the government's goal of doubling farmers' income by the year 2022.
Citing the priority of the government towards strengthening rural infrastructure and farmers' income, the Minister said that around Rs 14 lakh crore has been allocated towards the agriculture sector in Union Budget 2018 and pointed that this will be good for the national economy.
Terming the recent Cabinet decision to hike the Minimum Support Price as "historic", Mr Jaitley said that given the progress taken in providing housing, electricity, sanitation and bank accounts to people in rural areas, a revolutionary transformation has been happening in the Indian rural sector.
These initiatives will eventually result in a change in lifestyle and will enable those living in India's villages to increase their income on their own, he noted.
The Minister also called for a change in mindset, wherein rural sector investment is given high priority in the future as well.
Noting that small farms are no longer sufficiently remunerative, Mr Jaitley said that small and marginal farmers will benefit from economies of scale when they become a part of Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), which provide support in terms of information and infrastructure.
Applauding NABARD's initiatives in promotion of FPOs in line with the Centre's call for doubling farmers' income by 2022, he expressed optimism that the apex development bank would achieve the milestoneof promoting 5,000 FPOs in the next couple of years.
Speaking of the reduction in farm size over the years, the Minister recalled that under the Union Budget 2018, NABARD was mandated with the task of setting up FPOs.
Noting that India has now overtaken France to become the sixth largest economic power of the world, the Minister said, "The rate at which we are progressing makes it likely that we reach the fifth position next year."Mr Jaitley opined that, "while the world now acknowledges India as the fastest-growing large economy, our true measure of development will be when we are able to remove poverty from the nation."The growth of agriculture will play an important role in realising this goal, he added.
Chief guest for the occasion, Union Minister of State for Finance, Shiv Pratap Shukla, announced that NABARD would promote 5,000 more FPOs in the next two years. He said that the government was committed to double farmers' income by 2022 and added that various efforts undertaken for promotion of FPOs will help in achieving this goal.
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