India’s potato production increased by 20 per in the last decade while in Gujarat, it increased by 170 per cent, Modi said.Policy decisions and modern facilities for irrigation helped in this growth, Modi said. (Twitter image)Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said his home state Gujarat has become a hub for production and export of potatoes in the last two decades. Addressing the third Global Potato Conclave via video conferencing, Modi said India became a leader in production of food grains and food products due to farmers’ hard work and government policies. India’s potato production increased by 20 per in the last decade while in Gujarat, it increased by 170 per cent, Modi said. Policy decisions and modern facilities for irrigation helped in this growth, Modi said.“While the country’s potato production rose 20 per cent in the last 11-12 years, it went up 170 per cent in Gujarat, mainly due to policy initiatives and modern and sufficient facilities for irrigation,” he said, adding schemes like ‘Sujalan Sufalam’ and ‘SAUNI Yojana’ brought irrigation facilities even to areas affected by drought. A wide canal network was created in a very small time, which is a big achievement, he said.“In the last five years, the Central government has taken all efforts to take the Gujarat experiment in potato (production) across the country,” Modi said and appealed the delegates to form a new potato policy. Holding the Potato Conclave in Gujarat is important because this is the leading state in India as far as potato production is concerned, he said. Modi said a new record was created earlier this month by transferring Rs 12,000 crore to bank accounts of six crore farmers through direct transfer. At an event at Tumakuru in Karnataka earlier this month, Modi had electronically released Rs 12,000 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Samman Yojana to six crore farmers in one go. The Yojana, also known as PM-Kisan, is a Central scheme with 100 per cent funding from the Government of India. Under the scheme an income support of Rs 6000 per year is given to farmers in three equal installments of Rs 2000 each every four months. The PM-Kisan scheme has helped address the needs of farmers, Modi said. “Several steps are being taken to double the income of farmers by 2022,” Modi said.“As a result of the combined efforts of farmers and government policy India is now among the top three nations in production of grains and other food items,” Modi said. “To make agriculture profitable, the government aims to create a modern and widespread network from farm to food processing to distribution. In the next five years, thousands of crores of rupees will be spent on irrigation and farm-related infrastructure,” he said.“Farmer Producer Organisations are being promoted to make farmers access technology and markets. Our effort is to create 10,000 newFPOs in another five years,” he said. Scientists around the world, potato farmers and other stakeholders have gathered here for the Conclave to discuss important aspects related to food and nutrition. “Our government has taken many steps to promote food processing sector, be it opening the sector to 100 per cent FDI or helping farmers develop value addition and value chain,” he said. Many projects worth hundreds of crores of rupees have been completed across the country in a small time, he said. “Reducing the gap between farmers and consumers is our priority,” Modi said. The government is also promoting farm-tech based start-ups so that farm database could be used for smart and precision agriculture, he said.“This will help farmers in ensuring the right use of water, fertilisers and pesticides, reduce input cost and make farmers more competitive in the global market,” Modi said. The government’s efforts will succeed only when scientists and researchers create affordable solutions, he said. “Looking at the challenges of the coming decades, we will have to work towards productivity, affordability and right price to farmers,” he said.Modi also underlined the need to develop seeds that use less water, are more nutritious and have more life and productivity. “The cost of such seeds should be less and input cost should be the lowest possible,” he added. Modi also called for a joint war against malnutrition.