The Minister of Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Shri Nitin Gadkari has said that acute shortage of water and lack of innovation and diversification in farming and other related activities are the main reasons responsible for the poor economic conditions of farmers in the country. The Minister was speaking at a National Seminar on Liberating Farmers from Debt Trap: Challenges of Policy Reforms in India in New Delhi today. Shri Gadkari said that irrigation infrastructure in the country is grossly insufficient. While he hailed the increased funding for the 89 languishing AIBP (Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programmes) and other irrigation schemes, he said that much of the water problem can we solved if we learn to conserve and use the water available with us. In this regard he stressed upon the need to build check dams to maintain the draft of rivers and streams. He also called upon state governments to increase their funding for irrigation and gave the example of Madhya Pradesh where increased irrigation spending has resulted in higher productivity.
While speaking about water conservation Shri Gadkari also said that the Jal Marg Vikas project on river Ganga and the development of the other 111 recently declared National Waterways would go a long way in raising the water table and making water available for irrigation. The Minister also stressed upon the need for diversification of agriculture and innovation in agro based industries like food processing, beekeeping, fisheries, bamboo based industries etc. He said that research efforts should be made to bring in innovative technology to make best use of locally available products including waste. In this regard he cited the example of producing amino acid fertilizers from human hair and second generation ethanol from agro and municipal waste. The Minister also informed that the Green Highways programme will also generate employment for the village youth and help improving their financial condition.