On the evening of Thursday 20th March 2014 Shri Narendra Modi joined ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district. He joined the Charcha in Dabhadi village and interacted with farmers from all over the nation. Shri Modi interacted with farmers from Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh among other places. Answering questions, Shri Modi outlines his vision for agriculture and talked about increasing its importance in the development journey of India. Shri Modi said that the nation needs a farmer friendly and agriculture friendly government in Delhi that will address concerns of the farmers. He also called for increasing purchasing power of farmers and people in villages through agriculture, as this would enhance economic growth.
Answering a question on increasing production in cotton and soya bean, Shri Modi said that soya bean has very high nutritional value and it could be used to fight malnutrition. On cotton, Shri Modi stressed on the need of value addition.
Farmers were keen to hear from Modi ji on what he would do towards improving cold storage facilities that would prevent crop loss. Shri Modi pointed that this is a very valid concern and opined that it is very sad that while on one hand there is hunger, on the other hand there is wastage of food grains. “We need to have real time data on grains production and if that happens we can even transport the grains to places where there is shortage. Similarly, the Railways can create special facilities to transport agriculture produce. Taking eggs in a train is much better than taking them in a truck,” he affirmed.
During the interaction, Shri Modi spoke about the importance of agri infrastructure, decentralization in agriculture and giving of loans and concessions to farmers. Answering a question on farmers having to go to moneylenders Shri Modi pointed, “When banks were nationalized, we were told that they would help the poor but sadly that has not happened. Farmers in rural areas are not getting enough loans. This must change. Atal ji had begun Kisan Credit Cards but that process seems to have slowed down. We need to work out the different types of dangers each zone faces and then make insurance schemes for farmers accordingly.”
Farmers from Bihar and Jharkhand were keen to know about land reforms. On the issue Shri Modi stated, “Sadly, we don’t focus on the condition of our land in agriculture. We are only concerned about the length and breadth but we must think beyond. Every 2 years we should test the health of the soil. Satellite technology can help in proper mapping and measuring of land and then value addition can be done accordingly.”
Shri Modi urged the farmers to focus on irrigation and lauded the efforts of the Madhya Pradesh Government in providing irrigation facilities to the farmers. He called for moving beyond dependency on rainwater for farming. Responding to a farmer from Bundelkhand, Shri Modi pointed that the region has 5 rivers yet the farmer is facing troubles because the government is not bothered. He even spoke on the need to embrace drip irrigation.
Shri Modi welcomed the participation of youngsters in agriculture. Shri Modi interacted with several people who had lost their relatives, who committed suicide. Shri Modi categorically stated that suicide is no solution to any problem and that everyone would address the problems of the farmers together. He lauded the contribution of women in agriculture.
On GM seeds, Shri Modi accepted that there are different views on this but made it clear that the interests of the farmers are paramount. He affirmed, “On the issue there are different views. It helped in Gujarat and in parts of Maharashtra. Yes, we should trust science but do nothing where farmers die.” Other ideas that Shri Modi talked about include APMC reform by making it more proactive to reduce influence of middlemen and setting up model farms to educate farmers.