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Interview with Ashwani Kumar, Joint Secretary with the Ministry of Agriculture & Family Welfare, Govt of India
"With mechanisation and embracing new technology, the agricultural sector will undergo a revolutionary change," says Ashwani Kumar, Joint Secretary, Mechanisation & Technology / Plant Protection, Department of Agriculture Co-operation & Family Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture & Family Welfare, Government of India.
The overall development of the country cannot be possible if the villages remain undeveloped. It is but obvious that if the hands that feed us are in trouble, the entire country would face dire consequences. These thoughts have been echoed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is completely aware of the problems faced by the Indian agricultural sector. That's why, his government is focusing on the development of agriculture in India through mechanisation, new technology and plant protection, so that farmers of the country can get better yields from their crops, leading to greater benefits for the entire nation.

For raising general awareness on various issues and efforts being taken up by the government, senior correspondent of Merinews, Sanjay Mishra met Ashwani Kumar, the Agricultural Ministry's Joint Secretary for a face-to-face interview. Here are excerpts from the discussion:

Question 1: In the past two-decades, the agricultural sector has undoubtedly developed a lot, with increasing crop yields, but to what extent do you feel that mechanisation has been responsible in achieving this?

Ans: According to me, mechanisation has at least contributed 15 to 20 per cent in the development of agriculture in India, which means that there has been an improvement of 15 to 20 per cent. And we can further drastically reduce the time it takes in sowing. In farming, there is a window of 2-3 weeks. For sowing there is a window of 2-3 weeks, and the window for harvesting is also of 2-3 weeks. If proper machinery is used, this can be done in a short duration of time. For this, the Indian government runs a special scheme called `Submission of Agriculture Mechanisation'.

Under this special scheme, farmers are given a subsidy of 40 to 80 per cent. Out of this, 40 per cent subsidy is provided for industrial equipment and 80 per cent for `Group of Farmers'. Under this group, 10 or more farmers can create a `Custom Hiring Center' or `Agriculture Machinery Hiring Center'. Across various states of India, over 18,000 Custom Hiring Centers have been established by us so far. The government is aiming towards setting up more and more Custom Hiring Centers so that more and more farmers can have access to modern equipment and machinery at affordable prices and new technology reaches the villages.

Question 2: Today's farmer is struggling with the dilemma of choosing between conventional and modern agricultural techniques, to such an extent that he has neither remained conventional nor fully modernised. What according to you is the reason for it?

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