New Delhi: Interacting with members of the international media from the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) of South Asia, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, on Tuesday, 22nd December, that the agriculture sector is the backbone of the Indian economy and under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi the focus will be on doubling farmer’s income by 2022. He explained that the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities Amendment Act, 2020, are the biggest agricultural reforms in the country so far. The reforms will provide farmers with market freedom, encourage entrepreneurship, access to technology, and they will transform agriculture, h said, adding that India is a large democracy functioning on the principle of ‘’sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas” (everyone together, everyone’s progress, everyone’s trust), according to a press statement from the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer Welfare.
During the interaction, officials of the Agriculture Ministry explained in detail the provisions under the Farm Acts and how they will benefit the farmers and lead to the betterment of Indian agriculture in the new ecosystem. The Minister said that enacting the reform laws was not an overnight decision but it has gone through more than two decades of deliberations, suggested by numerous experts and recommendations by varied committees/groups. Regarding MSP, the Minister said that MSP is an administrative decision and it will continue. The Modi Government has shown its commitment to MSP very clearly with multiple hikes and a multi-fold increase in procurement, including in the 2020-21 Kharif season, said Agri Minister Tomar. The Agriculture Ministry’s press statement explained that the Modi Government announced MSP hikes based on the formula that farmers will get at least 1.5 times the cost of production. This was a promise made and delivered.
The Agriculture Minister outlined the various measures and reforms undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare during the last six years. He said that Indian agriculture has come a long way from food scarcity to food surplus. The Government, therefore, had realised that pro farmers reforms were essential to uplift the sector i.e. the backbone of the economy, he said, adding that every effort is being made to create an ecosystem of farmer-friendly policies to see that the sector goes from strength to strength.
Agri Minister Tomar noted that the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) was introduced by the central government in February 2019 under which Rs. 6,000 per year is transferred to the beneficiary farmer’s account in three instalments, revealing that since the inception of the scheme, a total amount of Rs. 95,979 crore have been released and 10.59 crore farmer families have benefited. A special drive has been undertaken to provide concessional credit to PM-KISAN beneficiaries through Kisan credit card, he said, adding that neem-coated urea was introduced since 2015-16 for reduced use of chemicals, improved soil health, overall increase in crop yields, and reduction in the use of urea for non-agricultural purposes.
The Minister noted that Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) was launched on 9th August 2020, aiming to provide medium to long term debt financing for investment in viable projects for post-harvest management. The Agri Minister also spoke about the Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs). The Scheme for Formation and Promotion of 10,000 FPOs with a total budgetary provision of Rs. 6,865 crore has been launched on 29th February 2020, he said, observing that, under the scheme, the formation of 10,000 FPOs across the country is targeted in five years.
The Agriculture Minister reiterated that reforms have been made in the interest of farmers and will bring about a new era in Indian agriculture. The Government has had many rounds of talks with farmer unions and is willing to continue the dialogue on contentious issues, clause by clause, with an open mind, he concluded.
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