My young colleagues and all the dignitaries present here.
This morning I got the opportunity to visit different parts of Jammu & Kashmir. I got late in coming here, we arrived late by almost an hour or so. First of all, I beg your pardon for reaching late here. Today, several projects of development have been dedicated from Leh to Srinagar. Some new projects have been started. I have always known the capacity of farms and fields of Jammu and orchards of Kashmir and also felt the spiritual and natural power of Leh-Laddakh. Whenever I come here my belief gets further strengthened that this is the one region of the country that has capability to march ahead in terms of development. We have been moving in the right direction, we have been achieving success due to the meaningful attempts made by the hard working people and due to the talented youth like you.
Friends, this university is nearly 20 years old and since then so many students have passed out from here. And they have been making their contribution in the social life at some place or other.
It is the sixth convocation ceremony of the university today. I got the opportunity to come amongst you on this occasion. I express my sincere gratitude to the university administration for inviting me. I am happy that some students from the schools of Jammu are also present here today. Today, the certificates, degrees and medals have been awarded to more than 400 students. This is the result of the hard work done by you as a part of this distinguished institution of the country. I extend my best wishes and congratulations to all of you, especially to daughters as today they have emerged victorious.
Today, you look at sports, you look at education, everywhere daughters are doing wonders. I see it before me that there is a spark in your eyes, a confidence is there in your eyes. This sparkle is there while realising both the dreams and challenges of the future.
This is not just a degree or certificate in your hands but it is a certificate of hopes of farmers of the country. The certificates that you are holding in your hands, it is full of hopes and aspirations of farmers of the country. This is a certificate of those millions and millions of hopes which the farmers of this country, who feed us, have of you people with a lot of expectation.
Technology has been changing with the time and this changing technology has been changing the basics of a lot of things. The one who can cope up with this fast pace it is the youth of this country. And because of this today I am amongst you, when I got the opportunity to talk to you people, I considered it very important.
The way technology has been changing the nature of jobs and new avenues of employments are being created, similarly it is necessary to develop a new culture in the agriculture sector. The more we make our traditional methods technology centric the more it will be beneficial for farmers. And by following this vision, the central government has been encouraging the use of modern technology linked to the agriculture sector in the country.
More than 12 crore soil health cards have been distributed in the country so far. More than 11 lakh farmers in Jammu & Kashmir have received these cards out of the total. With the help of these cards, farmers are becoming aware about what kind of fertiliser is required; what is required in their fields.
Farmers have also benefitted from 100 per cent Neem coated urea. This has not only resulted in the increase in production but it has also brought down the urea consumption per hectare.
Micro and sprinkler irrigation has been given encouragement while keeping in the mind the modern technology for irrigation and use of every single drop of water. Per drop more crop, this should be our mission.
In the last four years, more than 24 lakh hectare area have been brought under the micro and sprinkler irrigation. Union cabinet has approved more than Rs. 5,000 crore fund for micro irrigation just two days ago. All these polices, all these decisions, they strengthen our target of doubling the farmer’s income. And you people are an important part of the system which is being created through these efforts.
This is the country’s expectation of you people that after completing your education here, you will play an active role in making the agriculture a profitable venture with the help of scientific approach, technological innovation and research and development. It is the responsibility of our younger generation to make the agriculture and animal husbandry and other related activities better by using the modern technology.
My expectations have gone up when I heard about the efforts made by you people. I have also been informed about the model developed by you and your university to raise the farmer’s income in this region. You have named it integrated farming system model or IFS Model. This model includes grains, it also covers fruits and vegetables, flowers, animal husbandry, fisheries and poultry, it also includes compost, mushroom, biogas and it also has the concept of planting trees on the boundaries of farms. Not only it will ensure higher monthly income but also provide twice as much employment in a year.
This model that ensures a farmer’s income all through the years is very important in itself. You got clean energy, you also got freedom from waste, village cleanliness has also been ensured, and your model also ensures doubling of farmer’s income in comparison with the traditional model of farming. I would like to especially praise your model that you people have developed by taking into account the climatic condition of this place. I would like that this model should be publicised more in Jammu and nearby areas.
The government does not want the farmers to be dependent on just one crop. And we have been placing emphasis on encouraging all those things that can be a source of additional income. The development of new sectors of future in agriculture is going to be an integral part of the farmer’s development, it is going to help it.
In addition to the green and white revolutions, the more emphasis we will lay on the organic revolution, water revolution, blue revolution, sweet revolution, the farmer’s income will increase in the same proportion. This was the thinking of the government in the budget presented by us. Earlier an arrangement was made for encouraging the dairy sector but this time we have created two new funds with an allocation of Rs. 10,000 crore for fisheries and animal husbandry. It means that now the farmers will easily get support for agriculture and animal husbandry. In addition to this, the facility of credit extended to them through Kisan Credit Cards, which was earlier restricted only to agriculture, now this credit facility will also be available to farmers for fisheries and animal husbandry.
A big scheme has also been announced recently for reforming the agriculture sector. Eleven schemes related to agriculture have been included in the HaritKrantiKrishiUnnatiYojana. And an amount of Rs. 33,000 crore has been allocated for this. And this amount of Rs. 33,000 crore is not a small amount.
The Government is focused on creating wealth from waste in a big manner. Now this kind of movement is picking pace in different parts of the country that has been working for converting agriculture waste into wealth.
In this year’s budget, the government has also announced a scheme called GobarDhanYojana. In addition to increasing the village cleanliness, it will also help in increasing the income of farmers and people engaged in animal husbandry by utilising the bio wastage generated in the village. It’s not like that the wealth can only be created through byproducts. Sometimes the different use of main product of the crop can also boost the farmer’s income. Be it coir waste or coconut shells or bamboo waste or residue left in the farm after harvesting the crop, all these can help you to supplement your income.
In addition to this, we have also made it easier to cultivate bamboo by amending the bamboo related old law. You would be surprised to know that our country was importing bamboo worth Rs. 15,000 crore every year. There was no logic in it.
I’ve also been informed that you people have developed new varieties of 12 crops here. Ranveer Basmati, perhaps, this is very famous all over the country. Your effort is commendable.
However, the challenges faced by the agriculture sector today are not limited to just the quality of seeds. This challenge is also related to change in the climate. This is the result of the hard work done by our farmers, our agriculture scientists and policies of the government that our farmers have had record production during the last year. Be it wheat or rice or pulses, all the old records have been broken. Edible oil seeds and cotton have also registered massive increase in production. But if you look at the data of the last few years then you would find that some kind of uncertainty still persists in the production. And the biggest reason behind this is the dependence of our agriculture on rain water.
Because of the impact of climate change, while on the one hand a rise in the temperature has been witnessed, on the other some parts are becoming rain deficient. Its impact is also being seen in Jammu & Kashmir. Be it paddy cultivation or horticulture or tourism, water in sufficient quantities is essential for all these things. Glaciers meet the need of water in Jammu & Kashmir. But glaciers are melting at a fast pace because of the way temperature is rising. And as a result of it there is water shortage in some areas and in some other areas it has resulted in floods.
When I was reading about your university while coming here I also got to know about the FASAL project of you. You try to assess before the start of the crop season about the crop production and what kind of humidity is going to be there throughout the year. But now you need to go beyond this. New technologies are required to deal with new challenges. This strategy is required at both the level of crop as well as at the level of technology. We will have to consider those crops which consume less water. And it should also be part of your continuous thought process that how to add value in the agricultural produce.
I will give you an example of sea buckthorn. Perhaps, many of you are aware about this sea buckthorn. This plant which is being found in the Laddakh region has the capacity to tolerate the harsh weather and temperature between minus 40 degree to plus 40 degree centigrade. No matter how dry the season may be but it keeps flourishing on its own. Reference to its medicinal properties is also being found in the Tibetan literature of the 8th century AD. Several modern institutes of the country and the world have considered it extremely valuable. Be it the problem of blood pressure or fever or be it tumor or stone or ulcer or be it the problem of cold and cough; the medicines made of this sea buckthorn provide relief from these problems.
As per one study, the sea buckthorn available in the world alone can meet the entire vitamin C requirement of the world. The value addition of this agriculture product has changed the entire scenario. Now sea buckthorn has been used in a big way in herbal tea, in jam and protective oil and cream and also in health drinks. It is very useful for armed force personnel deployed at a very high altitude. Sea buckthorn has been used in producing several antioxidant products.
Today, I am giving this example from this platform, I also say this thing because whichever area of the country will be chosen by you people as your workplace you will find several such products there. You can develop a model there because of efforts made by you. While emerging as an agriculture scientist from a student and by adding value you can become the leader of an agricultural revolution.
There is another important topic in agriculture, it is artificial intelligence. This is going to bring about revolutionary changes in agriculture in the near future. Farmers have been using it in a limited manner in some parts of the country, like use of drone technology in pest control and for spraying medicines has gradually started now days.
In addition to this, new technology has been used in soil mapping and community pricing. Apart from this, the block chain technology will also have an important role in the coming days. This technology will make possible real time monitoring of supply chains. This will bring about transparency in the dealings in the agriculture sector. Most important thing is that it will check the misdeeds of middlemen and it will also check the wastage of production.
We all know this thing very well that one of the reasons behind rising cost of agriculture is poor quality seeds, fertiliser and medicines. Block chain technology can help tackle this problem. With the help of this technology, a product can be easily checked at any stage from production to till the time it reaches to farmers.
There will be a complete network which will include farmer processing units, distributors, regulatory authorities and consumers. This technology can be developed on the basis of a smart contract agreed upon between all these parties. And because anyone connected in this entire chain can keep an eye on this thing therefore there is very small possibility of corruption in this system.
In addition to this, this technology can also set the farmers free from incurring the loss due to changing prices of their commodities. Any person connected in this chain can share information with each other in real time. And prices can be determined at every stage as per mutual understanding.
The government has already been linking the village markets across the country under schemes like e-NAM. In addition to this, an effort is being made to link more than 22,000 village and wholesale markets with the global market. The government is also emphasizing on and encouraging the farm producers organization (FPOs). The farmers can very easily link themselves with village markets and big markets on their own by farming their small associations.
Now, the technology like block chain will also make our efforts more meaningful.
You people will have to think about developing such models that are friendly to futuristic technologies besides being appropriate to local needs.
We should focus our attention on this thing: how can we have new innovations and new start ups in the agriculture sector. You should make consistent efforts to link the local farmers with technology. And I have been told that during your course you people have done a lot of work to link the farmers with the organic farming at the local level. You people have also been doing research to develop the crops that are appropriate for organic farming. This kind of different attempts at every level will also make the life of farmers easier.
In the last four years, central government has approved several schemes for the farmers and horticulturists of Jammu & Kashmir. Five hundred crore rupees have been sanctioned for other schemes related to agriculture and horticulture and Rs. 150 crore of this amount has already been released. Cold storages are being constructed in Leh and Kargil. In addition to this, a subsidy of Rs. 20 crore has been provided for the people setting up the solar dryers.
I am hopeful that the efforts made by the government, from seeds to market, will further strengthen the farmers of the state.
The country is going to celebrate 75 years of its independence in 2022. I believe that many of you students would have established yourselves as a good agriculture scientists. I urge you that your university and the students of the university must set a target for yourself while keeping the year 2022 in mind. For example, it could be deliberated that how our university could be included not only in the top universities of the country but also in the top 200 universities of the world.
Similarly, the students of the university can make a pledge about increasing the crop production per hectare or taking the modern technology to maximum number of farmers.
When we talk about making the agriculture technology led and entrepreneurship driven then the development of quality human resources is a big challenge in itself.
The responsibility of all the institutions in the country, like your university, goes up. In such a situation, five Ts - training, talent, technology, timely action and trouble free approach becomes very important in my view. These five Ts are very important for bringing about revolutionary changes the country’s agricultural system. And, I am hopeful that you will also keep these things in mind while deciding about your resolves.
Today, you people are coming out of a closed environment of your classrooms and I convey my best wishes to you. You are coming out of this class room made of walls but a very big and open classroom is waiting for you people outside. At this place, just one stage of your learning process has come to an end, the serious education of a real life is starting from here. Therefore, you will have to keep alive the mindset of a student in you. You should never let die this student inside you. Only then you will be able to develop a better model for the farmers of the country through your innovative ideas.
You should make a pledge and realise your dreams and your parent’s dreams. You should make your contribution in nation building. With this hope, I conclude my speech and I convey my best wishes and congratulate all my colleagues. I convey by best wishes to their parents as well. Congratulations.
Thank you very much.