New Delhi, June 15(BPNS)
Greetings to all the Excellencies in the 42nd Session of FAO Conference. I hope and wish that you, your families and the citizens of your countries are safe and doing well in these difficult times of COVID-19 pandemic.
I am happy to participate in the 42nd Session of the FAO Conference being held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic. India is a founder member of the FAO and has played significant role since inception as Chair and member of various statutory bodies and committees.
I would like to congratulate the Food and Agriculture Organization for completing 75 glorious years of service to humanity on 16th Oct 2020. To commemorate the long standing relationship between India and the FAO, the Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi ji had released a special seventy five rupees commemorative coin which aptly combines the themes of agricultural production and nutrition in its motto – “सही पोषण देश रोशन’’ meaning “a country will shine if the nutrition is correct”.
The Country Program Framework prepared by FAO India in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India is aligned with our national priorities and has a much required multi sectoral approach.
FAO has benefitted from India’s vast repository of knowledge which is shared globally among the member countries. India has been working closely with FAO, extending technical expertise and assistance in incidences of trans-boundary pests mainly Fall Army Worm and Desert Locust. I acknowledge the support of FAO in endorsing the Indian proposal for an International Year of Pulses which was celebrated in 2016 and for declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets.
Agriculture has been one of the major success stories post independence in India. The Green Revolution, White Revolution, blue revolution along with the Public Distribution System and price support system for farmers are unparallel in the World.
It is the result of the vision of policy makers, ingenuity of our agricultural scientists and the labor of our farmers that India is self-sufficient in food grains. India is a leading producer or second highest producer of several agricultural commodities.
Agriculture has always been a high priority for India and Government of India is always committed to the welfare of farmers.
The COVID 19 pandemic has further put the spotlight on the sector. India with her tremendous growth trajectory in the field of agriculture will continue to share best practices and build capacities of other developing countries.
I note with satisfaction that the Agriculture sector in India performed well during the severe Covid-19 pandemic and registered an all time high production of 305 million tons of food grains as well as their exports contributing to the Global Food Security.
Faced with the debilitating Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, the Government of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Ji took swift actions on different fronts to ensure that the farming calendar is not affected by the restrictions imposed during the lock downs.
These initiatives of Government of India ensured timely sowing of the crops, availability of agricultural inputs and proper harvesting and procurement of the crops.
Significant Policy and legislative decisions were taken during this period to liberalize agri marketing to transform Indian agriculture for the benefit of farmers and consumers.
Special parcel trains with refrigeration facilities “the KISAN RAIL” were introduced by Indian Railways to transport the essential commodities including perishable horticulture produce, milk and dairy produce from the production centres to the large urban markets across our vast country creating a win-win situation for the producers and consumers.
To improve the situation of our workers and to provide them relief during Covid Pandemic the Government of India launched the “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package”. Under this scheme, free food grains were provided to 810 million beneficiaries and now, in May, the scheme has been further extended in which workers will be benefited till November.
More than Rupees 137000 Crore have been sent to the bank accounts of over 100 million farmers under the “PM Kisan” Scheme to provide income support to the farmers.
Excellencies, India is conscious of its commitments under the climate change pacts and is taking effective steps in various sectors to combat the climate change and to ameliorate the adverse impacts of climate change. India has launched various projects under the National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture to develop, demonstrate and disseminate the techniques to make agriculture resilient to adverse impacts of climate change. India is promoting Organic farming at a large scale.
I am sure that unflinching efforts of FAO with all the member countries to improve agriculture productivity, end hunger and malnutrition would go a long way to make the world a safer and healthier place to live in.