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8th Meeting of Agri Ministers: SCO Member Countries Adopted Smart Agriculture Project

On May 12, the 8th meeting of Agriculture Ministers from member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) was held via video conferencing, with Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar serving as the chairman. The meeting was attended by representatives from India, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, China, and Pakistan.

Shivam Dwivedi
8th Meeting of Agri Ministers: SCO Member Countries Adopted Smart Agriculture Project (Photo Source: @nstomar)
8th Meeting of Agri Ministers: SCO Member Countries Adopted Smart Agriculture Project (Photo Source: @nstomar)

During the meeting, the Smart Agriculture initiative was adopted by the SCO member nations, with India leading the charge. Tomar expressed his satisfaction with the smart agriculture action plan and the agricultural innovation programme, stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to promoting the overall development of agriculture in the country through technology. India has taken several concrete steps to support smart agriculture.

Union Minister Tomar welcomed everyone to the SCO summit on behalf of India, saying that India values its relations with the SCO in promoting multilateral, political, security, economic, and people-to-people interactions. It gives us great pleasure and pride to host a conference of SCO Agriculture Ministers to examine ways to deepen cooperation in food security and nutrition, especially in light of the current circumstances. Tomar stated that close interaction and cooperation between various countries for food and nutrition security is required to sustain the proper functioning of the food supply chain in the current conditions.

He also stated that India is the world's largest employer in the agriculture sector, with more than half of our population employed in agriculture and related industries, and that India is a vital economic activity for many countries. Its significance is further demonstrated by the fact that the budget allocation for agriculture and associated sectors in India has increased more than fivefold in the ten years since 2013-14. Over the years, India has performed well in agriculture, contributing to global food security through food grain production, achieving considerable growth in exports, and exports of agricultural and related products have exceeded Rs 4 lakh crore.

According to Tomar, India's public distribution system and price support system for farmers are the only ones in the world. Today, India is self-sufficient in food grains, thanks to the foresight of our policymakers, the efficiency of agricultural scientists, and the tireless hard work of farmers. India is a major producer of a variety of commodities, including grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, and fish. He stated that the welfare of farmers and the general development of the agriculture sector is the Government of India's top priority. With its complete development route in agriculture, India will continue to share best practices and create capacity with other nations, both bilaterally and in conjunction with international organizations, so that they, too, can become self-sufficient and food-secure nations.

He stated that rich agricultural research has played an essential role in addressing the issue of food security, increasing the income of farmers and agricultural workers, and ensuring people's nourishment. The Government of India is attempting to make the country self-sufficient in the agriculture sector by concentrating efforts on innovation, digital agriculture, climate-smart technologies, the development of high-yielding, biofortified varieties, and agricultural research. Efforts are being undertaken to improve farmers' lives and livelihoods by making agriculture more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Referring to the country's critical Prime Minister Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme, Union Minister Shri Tomar stated that under this scheme, crores of farmers across the country would receive Rs.6,000 per year, with approximately Rs 2.40 lakh crore already deposited in the farmers' bank accounts. There have been deposits made. Concessional institutional credit has been extended to millions of farmers, with a focus on expanding Kisan Credit Cards to farmers and covering all PM-Kisan beneficiaries through these. India is likewise encouraging organic farming and natural farming under the capable leadership of Prime Minister Shri Modi, with an emphasis on sustainable productivity, food security, and soil health.

A plan has been developed to promote and establish 10,000 new Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) in order to boost the economic potential of small and marginal farmers by incorporating them into farmer groups. 1 lakh crore will be spent on rural infrastructure development. The Agriculture Infrastructure Fund has been established. India has implemented a number of initiatives to expand the use of digital technologies in agriculture. National e-Governance Plan in Agriculture, Agristack, and India Digital Eco-system for Agriculture, among others, are digitizing and consolidating most agricultural schemes onto a single platform so that farmers can conveniently access and benefit from them.

He stated that insurance coverage is offered to farmers through the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, for which Rs. are paid. The Electronic National Agriculture Market was created to boost farmers' market access. With the purpose of raising farmers' income, India has also implemented programmes to construct new irrigation infrastructure, conserve soil fertility, including the balanced use of fertilizers, provide farm-to-market connectivity, ICT linkages, and so on. The objective of empowering farmers, farm women, and rural youth are being realized through large-scale lab-to-land programmes that are developing new technologies and approaches.

In light of the importance of food-nutritional security and climate-friendly agriculture, Anna urged the SCO countries to support the United Nations' declaration of the International Year of Millets on India's proposal and stated that India should achieve two sustainable development goals: ending hunger and providing food security. Bio-fortified varieties are a source of staple food rich in micronutrients that are constantly pushed to combat malnutrition in the country.

Manoj Ahuja, Secretary, Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, welcomed everyone to the meeting. Representatives from the SCO Secretariat, Central Agriculture, Ministry of Farmers Welfare, and top officials from SCO member nations participated.

(Source: PIB)

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