Pulwama: Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmer Welfare, Kailash Choudhary has urged marginal farmers to utilise schemes like Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) and Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) to change their fortunes.
Addressing a gathering of farmers, representatives of PRIs and officers of various departments here at Pulwama, he said that government plans to form around 10,000 FPOs.
He said that the FPOs will be very fruitful for small and marginal farmers.
"When small and marginal farmers form an association they will have a decisive power, which is lacked by an individual farmer," he said.
He informed the gathering that such FPOs will also be formed in Pulwama district at block levels and work on formation 9 FPOs is in progress.
"Once these 10,000 FPOs will be formed at block levels across the country they will definitely change the condition of small farmers and empower them," he said, adding that through FPOs small farmers will have a bargaining power in purchase or sale.
He said that they will not be mere farmers but entrepreneurs who can set their units for processing, packaging and marketing of agricultural products.
"When you form an FPO, an account will be opened in which a farmer will deposit rupees 2,000 and government will also deposit an equal amount," he said, adding that government can provide an assistance of rupees 15 lakh for the FPO.
He appealed farmers for joining the FPOs as members.
He also asked small farmers for setting business units in agriculture sector for which they will be provided assistance under Agriculture Infrastructure Fund.
He said that under Agriculture Infrastructure Fund a loan up to rupees 2 crore is given with 2 per cent rebate on interest.
"The loan is given without taking any mortgage from a farmer," he said.
Without naming any one, the Minister of State also criticised previous governments for neglecting farmers.
"Earlier there was no focus on farmers, they were ignored, Farmer was subject of speech but nothing was done for upliftment of his condition," he told, adding that there were no schemes for him.
He said it was because of this reason that youth moved away from farming and preferred salaried job or business over agriculture.
He added that now there is a special focus on agriculture and the budget has been increased from 23,000 crore to 132000 crore.
"The way agricultural sector is registering growth, it will be not far when youth will prefer farming over government job or business," he said.