New Delhi: Farmers’ welfare will gain pace once states adopt the model laws drafted by the Centre, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday, referring to acts on contract farming, land leasing and agriculture marketing proposed by the centre.

“Reforming agriculture markets is a focus area and the government is trying to connect farmers from local to global markets," Modi said while addressing farmers and scientists at the Krishi Unnati Mela, an annual event of the agriculture ministry, in Delhi.

“We are working hard to ensure that farmers receive better prices for their crops and in the budget we have announced that minimum support prices will be determined in a way which will ensure 50% returns over costs borne by the farmer," the prime minister said.

He added that critics are trying to confuse and demotivate farmers on the new MSP policy, but the government will calculate costs in a way which will include expenses on hired and family labour, irrigation, inputs, interest on working capital, land revenue paid by farmers to state governments, and rent on machinery and leased land.

Despite the challenges in farming, the centre has set a goal to double farm incomes by 2022 and the government is making progress through steps like providing soil health card and mandating 100% neem coating of urea to raise production and cut costs, the prime minister said.

Modi in his speech also mentioned schemes like crop insurance and irrigation that are making a difference to farmers’ lives, and new ones like ‘operation greens’ focusing on the horticulture sector.

During the event, the prime minister also launched a new electronic marketing platform for organic produce.

“Farmers need to adopt new methods like bee keeping, use solar power for irrigation and create wealth from farm waste," the prime minister said, urging farmers not to burn crop stubble and instead use machinery subsidized by the government to manage crop residues.

PM Modi also urged farmers to grow more of bamboo and edible oilseeds on which India is heavily import dependent, and cut use of heavily used fertilizers like urea by half to improve soil health.

Speaking at the event, agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said that many farmers who have joined politics, and political activists who are raising farmers’ issues should also make farmers aware of useful government schemes.

“Mere sloganeering will not help the cause of farmers," Singh said.

The statements by Prime Minister Modi and the agriculture minister come in the backdrop of continuous farmer protests since June last year. Farmer’s across the country are demanding remunerative prices and loan waiver, after consecutive years of record harvest led to a sharp fall in commodity prices which hit farm revenues and incomes.

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