Yavatmal/Wardha (Maharashtra), March 21 :
BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi Thursday interacted via video conferencing with around 1,500 farmers from across the country, and said farmers committing suicide after being hit by natural calamities or economic crises was a “national agony”.
Modi answered a variety of questions posed by farmers from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and other states as part of his “Chai Pe Charcha” initiative.
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader said more farmers have died in Maharashtra in the past few years than in all the wars fought by India.
“It’s a national agony. The NDA shall stand behind all farmers hit by natural calamities like the recent hailstorms, or economic crises. I shall not be able to sleep peacefully till I do something for you,” Modi said.
The Gujarat chief minister urged the need for a system where farmers are not driven to end their lives, with the infusion of modern technology, providing water resources and making efforts to double agriculture output.
Modi said soyabean can become an important weapon in India’s fight against malnutrition if it can reach the masses.
“Nowadays, a lot of soya products are available, and soya milk is becoming increasingly popular,” he said.
Modi said it was “irresponsible” on part of the government as to how foodgrains were rotting or are destroyed in floods, even as the country grapples with hunger.
“We have no real-time data on agriculture in the country, which can be possible with the latest satellite technology. This will enable movement of foodgrain from one deficit area to another and prevent wastage. Goods trains must have a dedicated department for transporting agri-products on priority,” he said.
Modi called for land reforms and surveys every 30 years, the need to invest in agri-technology, and exploiting barren land to improve output.
He also spoke about bank loans to farmers and going soft in recoveries during natural crises.
In Wardha, Modi proposed a formula for ending farmers’ misery.
“We want a 5-F formula – farm, fibre, fabric, fashion and foreign (exports) – to help the cotton producing farmers,” Modi said at a rally amidst applause from the farming community.
Attacking the Congress-led government at the centre, he said all they want is to win the elections but they neither understand the nation’s needs nor how to take India forward.
Stating that nearly three dozen farmers have committed suicide in the past four days in Maharashtra, he demanded why the money that belongs to the farmers is not being disbursed to them.
“They (the UPA) announce packages but give nothing. They are not concerned about how water reaches the farmers. The need of the hour is to equip the farmers with latest technology,” he said.
He assured that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will ensure proper relief to farmers affected by natural calamities and financial difficulties.
Lashing out at Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Modi said that though India has great potential in agriculture, farmers are dying everywhere.
“The union agriculture minister should answer: when cotton harvest was good, global demand rose, farmers were getting global orders, then why was cotton export banned? For whose benefit was it done?” he asked.