Modi bats for agriculture sectorPM Narendra Modi

Virendra Singh Rawat

In his maiden ‘thanksgiving’ visit to his Varanasi parliamentary constituency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that the agriculture sector will play a key role in propping up India as the world’s third largest economy.

Addressing a public meeting in the temple town, Modi stressed that the domestic farm sector should now focus on the international market, attain self reliance in pulses and oilseeds, and augment exports.

“I envision that every dining table across the world should have some or the other food products or items produced in India,’ he added.

It was Modi’s first visit to Varanasi after becoming the PM for the third consecutive term earlier this month. He thanked the people of Varanasi for “electing a PM” for the third time in a row.

Earlier, the PM electronically released the 17th installment of the flagship PM Kisan, in which more than 92.6 million farmers received cash benefits of Rs 20,000 crore directly into their bank accounts.

He also distributed certificates to 30,000+ women self-help groups (SHG) trained as ‘Krishi Sakhis’ to work as para-extension workers.

The programme was organised by the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in coordination with the Uttar Pradesh government. PM was flanked by UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, union agriculture minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, UP agriculture minister Surya Pratap Shahi etc.

Meanwhile, Modi – while underlining the farming concept of ‘Zero Effect, Zero Defect’ – stressed on catalysing coarse grains or ‘Shri Anna’ and promoting medicinal crops, natural farming apart from focusing on food processing and packaged foods.

He said local agri products including Varanasi’s ‘langda’ mango variety as well as vegetables from Ghazipur were being exported.

“The improvement in production quality owing to the ODOP (one district one product) scheme and the district export hubs is spurring exports from the region,” he added.

The PM further called upon women to play a more active role in farming even as he listed an array of schemes to encourage women participation in farming and allied activities.

Meanwhile, Modi observed that the recent Lok Sabha elections exemplified the deep roots and the strength of Indian democracy.

“The elections saw 640 million people cast their votes, which is the largest in the world,” he said and compared the total electorate to the population of Europe.

He said the number of women voters in India stood at 310 million, which is roughly the total population of the US.

Modi said the mandate received by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was unprecedented as it was rare in a democracy that a ruling alliance got the mandate for a third consecutive term after 10 years’ rule, which he termed as a hat-trick.

“Your (voters) trust is my biggest capital and it inspires me to work to take India to greater heights. I will work harder to realise your dreams and your pledges,” he noted while listing women, youth, poor and farmers as the priority segments for the government.

He said the Centre had liberalised several rules to ensure maximum benefits to the farmers and the farm sector.

Waxing eloquent on Varanasi or Kashi, Modi said Kashi is the world’s capital for culture, wisdom and education.

“Kashi has showed to the world that a heritage city can script a new chapter in urban development,” he said while speaking about a gamut of development projects underway in the region.

PM Kisan scheme was launched in 2019 to supplement the financial needs of farmers subject to certain criteria. The scheme, which has logged total transfer of Rs 3.25 trillion since inception, is the world’s largest direct benefit scheme of its kind.

The financial benefit of Rs 6,000 per year in three equal installments, every four months, is transferred to the beneficiaries through the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mode.

Meanwhile, Modi is also slated to witness the Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat, and worship at the reverred Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi.

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