Under the leadership of our popular and visionary Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the results of all-round efforts made by the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare in the last eight years are being reflected in the society. Many innovative steps have been taken by the ministry in the form of initiatives, schemes and programs that are playing a major role in improving the conditions of farmers.
The standard of living of farmers is getting better and agricultural assistance from Delhi is reaching them directly through bank accounts with complete transparency. The income of farmers has increased, their thinking towards accepting agriculture as a business has got a new direction.
All schemes, programs and activities of the government ensure that farmers take an interest in becoming agricultural entrepreneurs voluntarily.
The budget allocation of the last eight years, the substantial increase in it and more farmer friendly agri-policies are a part of the government’s positive thinking and strong will power.
The allocation of agricultural budget in the current financial year is around Rs 1.32 lakh crore, a reflection of the honest thinking of the central government for the welfare of farmers. The budget allocation for agriculture has increased by almost six times in the last eight years.
The journey of development in the agriculture sector does not end here. Along with the allocation, the record production of food grains and horticultural crops is also proof of the budget allocation of the government being spent in the right direction. According to the Third Advance Estimates in the year 2021-22, production of food grains is estimated to be around 315 million tonnes, while the production of the horticulture sector is estimated at 334 million tonnes, the highest ever.
Truly, it is no small feat that amidst the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, India has easily supplied food grains to many countries. Even during the Russia-Ukraine crisis, India has emerged as a major supplier of food grains to the countries in need.
Not only is the production of food grains in the country showing continuous increase at record level, but the export of agriculture is also increasing continuously, reaching almost Rs 4 lakh crore.
To improve the earnings of the farmers for better livelihood, the government has continuously increased the minimum support price for Kharif, Rabi and other commercial crops. In the year 2013-14, the minimum support price for paddy was Rs 1,310 per quintal. It has increased to Rs 1,940 per quintal. Similarly, in 2013-14, the MSP for wheat was Rs 1,400 per quintal and has now reached Rs 2,015 per quintal.
During the Rabi marketing season in 2021-22, 433.44 lakh metric tonnes of wheat was procured by the government at MSP, which is the highest ever procurement. Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir have seen the highest purchase of wheat so far. The figures show that 49.19 lakh wheat-producing farmers got Rs 85,604.40 crore in MSP during the season. The payment has been made directly into their bank accounts in a transparent manner.
Around 11.50 crore farmers have been given Rs.1.82 lakh crore under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Yojana. This scheme is one of the most comprehensive and important schemes of the central government, and is also a symbol of loyalty towards farmers with no middlemen involved.
In keeping with the government’s serious approach towards soil health, Soil Health Cards have reached crores of farmers. This scheme has and is making farmers aware of effective and better agricultural production results to get better yields.
The government, under the guidance of Prime Minister Modi, has made special provision for natural farming in this year’s budget. In Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, an area of 5 km on either banks of the Ganga will be brought under natural farming.
The government’s plan to promote natural farming does not stop here. The government has constituted a committee from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to include materials related to natural farming in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching courses. Chemical-free natural farming is being supported by the ministry and ICAR.
Adhering to the contemporary nature of natural farming, ICAR has issued special guidelines to agricultural universities to include research and research subjects related to natural farming. Natural farming has the potential to increase the income of the farmers and is a symbol of the creative thinking of the central government towards better living.
It is the dedication of the central government towards farmers that along with improving on their facilities, Rs 1 lakh crore has been allocated under the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund. The farmers are being served through important and comprehensive schemes like the Agricultural Infrastructure Fund and the government is conscious of providing basic facilities like godowns, custom hiring centres, primary processing units, sorting and grading units, and cold storages for them.
The government is committed to provide the farmers a fair price for their products through these basic facilities.
The government is also giving special promotion to the National Beekeeping and Honey Mission under the Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign. Similarly, through schemes like National Agriculture Market (e-NAM), Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana and agricultural mechanisation, the government is committed to providing maximum benefits to the farmers.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, farmers are provided with security cover in the unfortunate event of natural calamities. To connect with more farmers, ‘Meri Policy, Mere Haath’ campaign was also launched. The importance of the PM crop insurance scheme can be gauged from the fact that farmers have deposited approximately Rs 21,000 crore in premium, while they got Rs 1.15 lakh crore in claims against crop losses.
The Kisan Rail Scheme is a very important concept for smooth transportation of agricultural produce. It facilitates the operation of special trains for the movement of perishable agricultural products, another great example of the government’s commitment to the farmers. So far, around 2,500 trips have been made across the country on 175 routes.
The Agriculture Ministry budget this year has given special emphasis on agriculture start-ups and agri-entrepreneurship. Through its farmer friendly schemes, the Government of India will be capable of taking our agriculture sector to new heights in the future. There are many expectations and hopes in the agriculture sector. The government, under the leadership of our sensitive and skilled Prime Minister, understands this well and is moving forward in full force in that direction.
At present, the government, along with the people, is celebrating 75 years of Independence or Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav all over the country.
The Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare celebrated the ‘Kisan Bhagidari, Prathmikta Hamari’ campaign with great enthusiasm from April 25 to April 30. During this campaign, all departments in the ministry, all institutions under it, including ICAR, and more than 700 Krishi Vigyan Kendras located across the country organised farmers’ fairs, seminars and workshops. The events saw enthusiastic participation from central ministers, MPs and MLAs.
When India completes 100 years of Independence, it can look back at the grand view of a golden agricultural sector. We are all moving towards building a self-reliant agricultural sector and a self-reliant India with this desire.
Narendra Singh Tomar is the Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. Views expressed by the author are personal