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Putting farmers first? Modi's publicity outfit plays up Gujarat model via not secure site

Screenshot from the ebook
Alarmed by the powerful farmers’ uprising in North India, as part of the Government of India’s (GoI’s) powerful propaganda blitzkrieg, the Bureau of Outreach and Communication (BOC), earlier known as DAVP, the nodal organisation of GoI for advertising and communication, has released a colourful 106-page e-book in order to justify controversial the three farm laws, which are the main point of contention.
The ebook, sent via via a “not secure site”, titled ‘Putting Farmers First’, calls the three farm laws “historic reforms” and claims to “clear the doubts and misinformation that has spread about the laws” and present a “correct picture”, even as seeking to “dispel” the concerns of “various stakeholders”.
Countering the protesting farmers’ argument, the ebook not only claims that the minimum support price (MSP) would not be done away with. Enumerating various steps been taken by the Government for the “welfare” of farmers, the ebook especially focuses on what it calls the Gujarat model of agriculture in order to justify why Modi is right on farm laws.  Excerpts:
***
Dr MS Swaminathan, often known as Father of Green Revolution, said in 2007: "At the National Commission of Farmers, we again emphasised the importance of strengthening soil testing laboratories, mobile soil testing vans, issue of soil health card to every farmer but nothing has been done. Some states like Gujarat have done good work, so the agricultural growth rate in Gujarat is over 9%."
The recommendations of Dr Swaminathan for improving agriculture were being implemented in Gujarat by then CM Modi even if the then government at the Centre was turning a deaf ear. As a result, production and yields of agricultural crops rose impressively in Gujarat.
For example, the total cereal production rose from 39.92 lakh tonnes to 65.38 lakh tonnes between 1999-2000 and 2016-17, even as the area in which these crops were sowed reduced from 32 lakh hectares to 28.36 lakh hectares.
With these developments, farmer incomes too grew, contributing to a virtuous cycle of better income, better inputs, better technology adoption and even better results. This virtuous cycle wasn’t incidental but was driven by a Chief Minister who understood farming very closely and worked consciously to empower farmers.
The massive growth in agriculture and allied ecosystems that was seen in Gujarat in Modi’s tenure has been called an agrarian miracle by domain experts. Agricultural economist Ashok Gulati summed up the Gujarat Model when he wrote in April 2014 that:
“True pro-people policies augment income earning capacity of the largest number of people. And Gujarat has done that through its agrarian miracle. Several factors have contributed to its success: from technological success of Bt cotton to check dams recharging groundwater, to Narmada waters, to Jyotigram giving regular and reliable power supply in rural areas, Krishi Mahotsav which transformed the agri-extension landscape, ever-flourishing dairy sector and well connected, good quality roads in rural areas.”
Even as Narendra Modi was unleashing a miracle in Gujarat, at the Centre, there was a stark contrast. They used to declare Minimum Support Price (MSP) but they never bought large quantities of produce from farmers. They declared loan waivers but those waivers never reached majority of the small and marginal farmers. They announced big schemes but these schemes almost always ended up being damp squibs. They promised subsidized fertilizers but it used to get routed to black markets rather than reaching farmers.
Convinced that only Narendra Modi can ensure a turnaround in India’s agriculture sector, farmers too voted overwhelmingly for him, making him the Prime Minister in 2014.
Bolstered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal record of working with farmers, his government has taken various decisions for farmer welfare from day one. For the first time, there was now a government led by a leader who publicly set ambitious targets – doubling farmers’ income – and inspired the whole nation.
As a way of recognizing role models, some farmers were even honoured with Padma Awards. In the past six years, the Modi government has gone about reforming the agriculture domain step-by-step. At every step of the agricultural cycle, the needs of the farmers have been kept in mind. Not only were MSPs hiked multiple times but procurement at MSP also increased many times more than earlier governments did.
In 2013-14, the MSP for Tur dal was Rs 4,300/quintal whereas in 2020-21, the MSP for Tur dal has been substantially increased to Rs 6,000/quintal. If the MSP declared for Tur dal is 55% higher, the procurement of pulses too has gone up almost exponentially. During 2009-14, the UPA government procured only 1.52 LMT of pulses, whereas during 2014- 19, the Modi government procured 112.28 LMT of pulses at MSP, a 74-fold rise!
Take another example. In the 15 years preceding 2014, Sharad Pawar’s party was in power in Maharashtra, while for 10 years during this period he was also the Union Agriculture Minister. During this time, the government spent just Rs 450 crore in purchasing food grain from farmers of Maharashtra. In contrast, during 2014-19, a period of just 5 years, the NDA government purchased food grain worth Rs 8,500 crore.
MSP hike was announced as recently as September 2020, immediately after the pro-farmer reform bills were passed, clearly showing the intentions of the government to strengthen the MSP system even more. Irrigation and insurance have both seen huge improvement.
Direct income support was ensured for farmers through the historic PM- KISAN scheme, through which money now directly reaches the bank accounts of the farmers. Cold chains, mega food parks and such agro-processing infrastructure have been set up on a big scale. Allied activities have witnessed never-before-seen focus as an avenue of income generation for farmers.
The latest wave of pro-farmer reforms, advocated by many experts for decades, fulfilled the demands of many farmers and farmer unions. These reforms give farmers the freedom to sell anywhere and to anyone. Farmers can sell in APMC Mandis as well as outside them.
Further, these reforms also strengthen farmers with a protective legal framework when dealing with buyers, ensuring that they get an assured income for their produce. These reforms have seen decades of consultations with stakeholders, multiple committees and clear cross-party consensus about the way forward.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s track record and his government’s actions give confidence that the life of the Indian farmer is transforming for the better, with an elaborate safety net being created for farmers while also increasing their avenues of income generation. As the nation responds to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, Aatmanirbhar farmers will lead the way.

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