Our country’s Agriculture Minister Shri Narendra Sigh Tomar ji, my other colleagues in Union Council of Ministers, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath ji, other guests, all student friends and all my dear brothers and sisters who are connected with this virtual programme from different parts of the country.
I congratulate and extend my best wishes to all of you for the new college and administration buildings of Rani Lakshmi Bai Central Agricultural University. The young colleagues will work for the empowerment of the agriculture sector after their graduation from here.
I could sense and see the enthusiasm, jubilation and confidence, in the preparations by the students, during my conversation with them. I am confident that there will be more facilities available after the construction of the new building. The students will be inspired and encouraged to do more with these facilities.
Friends, once Rani Lakshmi Bai had roared from the land of Bundelkhand: “I will not give my Jhansi”. We all remember this sentence “I will not give my Jhansi”. Today there is a need for a new roar and from Jhansi, from the land of Bundelkhand. ‘My Jhansi- My Bundelkhand’ will put all the power at its disposal and will write a new chapter to make self-reliant India campaign a success.
Agriculture has a very big role in it. When we talk about self-reliance in agriculture, it is not restricted to food grains only, but it is about the self-reliance of the entire economy of villages. The mission is to add value to the produce cultivated in different parts of the country and take them to the markets of the world. The purpose behind self-reliance in agriculture is to make farmers not only producers but entrepreneurs as well.
There will be huge opportunities for jobs and self-employment at a large scale in villages and nearby areas when farmers and agriculture will progress like industries.
Friends, the government has been continuously taking several historic reforms in the field of agriculture with this resolution in mind. In India, there has been a huge improvement in the legal laws which had shackled the farmers, the mandi (market) laws and the Essential Services Act. Like any other industry, the farmer will be able to sell his produce anywhere in the country where he gets better price.
Besides, a comprehensive plan has been made to develop clusters of industries near villages. A special fund with one lakh crore rupees has been created so that these industries get better infrastructure facilities. The fund will help our Farmer Producers' Organisations (FPOs) to prepare modern infrastructure for storage and establish processing-related industries. This will create new opportunities for the youth studying in the field of agriculture and their other friends and there will be new avenues for Start-ups.
Friends, work is in progress to connect everything from seeds to markets with technology and modern research. Research institutions and agricultural universities have a big role in it. Just six years ago, there was only one central agricultural university in the country. Today, three central agricultural universities are operational in the country. Other than this, three more national institutions – IARI-Jharkhand, IARI-Assam and Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Integrated Farming in Bihar’s Motihari are being established.
These research institutions will not only provide opportunities to students, but will also extend technology gains to local farmers and help increase their capacity.
Alongside, work is also going on in several spheres in the country which includes solar pump, solar tree, development of seeds according to local demands, micro irrigation, drip irrigation, etc. You all have an important part in making these initiatives accessible to a large number of farmers, particularly to the farmers of Bundelkhand. Another example has been seen recently when modern technology was used to tackle agriculture and its associated challenges.
You may recall there was a huge attack by locusts in the month of May in Bundelkhand. The farmer is not able to sleep when there is news of swarms of locusts, for they destroy months of efforts. The damage to crops and vegetables of farmers becomes certain. I have been told that Bundelkhand was attacked by locusts after almost 30 years. Otherwise, locusts never used to come here.
Friends, not only Uttar Pradesh, but more than 10 states of the country were affected by the locust attacks. It was very difficult to control its spread through normal and traditional methods. India was liberated from these swarms and saved from these huge attacks in a very scientific way. Had India not been suffering from Corona, there would have been positive discussion on it in the Indian media for a week, that such a great work has happened.
In order to save farmers’ crops from locust attacks, efforts were made on war footing. Dozens of control rooms were set up in several towns, including Jhansi. Arrangements were made so that information could reach farmers at the earliest. We did not even have special spray machines in large numbers to kill and ward off locusts, because these attacks generally don’t happen. The government bought dozens of these modern machines immediately and sent them to districts. We deployed all the resources, be it tankers, vehicles, chemicals or medicines so that the farmers did not have to suffer much.
Dozens of drones were deployed to spray chemicals in large areas to save big trees. Even helicopters were used to spray chemicals. It is because of all these efforts that India could save farmers from huge losses.
Friends, the young researchers and scientists will have to continuously work on a One Life One Mission so that there is maximum use of drone technology, artificial intelligence technology and modern farm equipment in the country’s agriculture.
For the last six years, concerted efforts are being made to link research with farming and availability of scientific advice to small farmers at village levels. It is necessary to make this ecosystem of experts from campus to field more effective. Your university also has a very large role in it.
Friends, it is also necessary to take education related to agriculture and its practical application to schools. Efforts are being made to introduce the subject of agriculture at the middle school level in villages. There will be two advantages from this. One advantage will be that the natural understanding associated with farming in children of the village will be expanded. The second advantage will be that they will be able to give more information to their families about farming and related technology, trade and business. It will also encourage Agro Enterprise in the country. Necessary reforms have been proposed in the new National Education Policy.
Not only since the times of Lakshmi Bai, Bundelkhand has always been leading from the front in tackling challenges. This has been the identity of Bundelkhand to face any challenges.
The people of Bundelkhand are also determined against Corona. The government has also made efforts so that people have minimum difficulties. In order to ensure that the stove of the poor keeps burning, free ration is being provided to crores of poor and rural families in Uttar Pradesh, just like it is being provided in other parts of the country. Almost 10 lakh poor sisters of Bundelkhand have been provided with free gas cylinders. Crores of rupees have been deposited in the Jan Dhan accounts of lakhs of sisters. Over 700 crore rupees have been spent in Uttar Pradesh alone under the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan. It is ensuring employment to lakhs of workers. I have been told that hundreds of ponds have been repaired and new ponds have been constructed in Bundelkhand.
Friends, when I came to Jhansi, ahead of the election, I had told the sisters of Bundelkhand that the previous five years were for toilets and the next five years will be for water. It is due to the blessings of the sisters that the campaign to make available drinking water to homes of all is moving very fast. The work of building water sources and laying pipelines continues unabated in all the districts of Bundelkhand, spread over UP and MP. About 500 water projects worth over 10,000 crore rupees have been sanctioned in this region. In the last two months, work on projects worth about 3,000 crore rupees has also commenced. Lakhs of families of Bundelkhand will get direct benefit once these projects are ready. In order to increase the water table in Bundelkhand, work is in progress on Atal Bhujal Yojana. A plan of more than 700 crore rupees is underway to improve the water level in hundreds of villages in Jhansi, Mahoba, Banda, Hamirpur, Chitrakoot and Lalitpur.
Friends, Betwa flows on one side of Bundelkhand and the Ken River on the other. Mother Yamuna is in the north direction, but the situation is such that the benefits of these rivers don’t accrue to the entire region. The government has been working continuously to change this situation. The Ken-Betwa River Link Project will change the fate of this region. We are in constant touch with the governments of both the states and working in this direction. I have full confidence that the life of Bundelkhand will change forever once it gets adequate water.
Whether it is the Bundelkhand Expressway or the Defence Corridor, projects worth thousands of crores of rupees will create new employment opportunities. Day is not far when this land of the braves, Jhansi and nearby area will be developed in a big way to make the country self-reliant in defence. In a way, the ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan and Jai Vigyan’ mantra will echo in the four directions. The central government and Uttar Pradesh government are committed to enrich the ancient identity of Bundelkhand and the pride of this land.
With best wishes for the future, many many congratulations to all of you for this new building of the university.
Always remember this mantra, distance of two yards and the mask is must. If you remain safe, the country will be safe.
Many many thanks to all of you !