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Climate-resilient seeds to help farmers: Nirmala Sitharaman

On Monday, the finance minister announced crop varieties fortified with nutrients to boost farmers' income and fight malnutrition

These varieties are tolerant to diseases, insects, pests, drought, salinity: FM (DS stories, Pexels)

To improve farmers' income and fight malnutrition, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has developed bio-fortified crop varieties having nutrients like protein, iron, zinc and vitamin A, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday.

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Announcing fresh stimulus measures for the economy battered by the second wave of COVID-19, the minister said the earlier focus on developing higher yield crop varieties lacked attention towards nutrition, climate resilience and other traits. 

In those varieties, she said, concentration of important nutrients was far below required level, and they were susceptible to biotic and abiotic stresses. 

ICAR has developed bio-fortified crop varieties having high level of nutrients like protein, iron, zinc and vitamin-A, she said. 

"These varieties are tolerant to diseases, insects, pests, drought, salinity, and flooding, early maturing and amenable to mechanical harvesting also developed. 21 such varieties of rice, peas, millet, maize, soyabean, quinoa, buckwheat, winged bean, pigeon pea and sorghum will be dedicated to the nation," she said.

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Meanwhile, the government announced a 77.45 crore revival package for the North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation (NERAMAC) so that the farmers of the region get better price for their produce.

The Corporation was set up in 1982 to support farmers in the North East in getting remunerative prices of agri-horticulture produces.

It aims to enhance agricultural, procurement, processing and marketing infrastructure in the region. A total of 75 Farmer Producer Organisations/ Farmer Producer Companies are registered with NERAMAC. 

"It has facilitated registration of 13 Geographical Indicator (GI) crops of North-East. The company has prepared business plan to give 10-15 per cent higher price to farmers by-passing middlemen/agents.

"It also proposes to set up North-Eastern Centre for Organic Cultivation, facilitating equity finance to entrepreneurs," she said.

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