On Friday, President Ram Nath Kovind said the requisite in the Indian agriculture sector is to concentrate on 10 crores small and marginal farmers, who make up more than 80% of the country’s total farming community. Speaking at the joint session of the two houses of Parliament, the President confirmed that the government also prioritizes these small and marginal farmers, thus highlighting the steps taken to help farmers.
Saying that the aim of self-reliant India will be further enhanced by self-reliance in agriculture, Kovind said: ‘ With this concept, over the past six years, the government has tried to bring a positive change to the ‘Seed to Market’ system in order to modernize and also see development in Indian agriculture sector.’
Irrigation – Per Drop More Crop
He stated that widespread positive changes in numerous sources of irrigation have been made. Having followed the ‘Per Drop More Crop’ strategy, the government not only completes the pending irrigation schemes, but also provides farmers with modern irrigation techniques. Merely 42 lakh hectares of land were micro-irrigated in 2013-14, but today, more than 56 lakh hectares of agri land have been micro-irrigated, he said.
Schemes and Benefits
The President said that around Rs 1,13,000 crore had already been directly transferred to farmers’ bank accounts under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PMKSN) in order to provide spending support for small and marginal farmers families. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFB) has also supported the small farmers. Over the last 5 years, under this scheme, approximately Rs 90,000 crore has been given as compensation for farmers against a Rs 17,000 crore premium, he added.
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In addition, the President has said the task of creating 10,000 Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) by getting together the nation’s small farmers is also an important and relevant move.
This has ensured access to advanced technology, additional credits, post-harvest processing and marketing facilities and insurance benefits for peasants on the same footing as rich farmers throughout natural disasters, he noted, adding that it has also created an alternative for farmers to secure remunerative prices for their produce and to generate higher savings.
Infrastructure and logistics
The President said the government also emphasis on developing modern agricultural infrastructure in order to increase the viability of agriculture.
The Rs 1,00,000 crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) has also been initiated for this purpose. The Kisan Rail, which has been introduced across the country, is helping to pave a new path by increasing Indian farmers’ entry into new agri and allied markets. This rail is more like a cold mobile storage rail.
More than 100 Kisan Rails have been launched so far, enabling farmers to transport more than 38,000 tonnes of food grains, fruits and vegetables from one area to another, he added.
The President said that the government also has concentrated on the production of livestock as a source of income in order to increase farmers’ income. As a result, over the last 5 years, the nation’s livestock has risen at an annual rate of 8.2%.
The government has also established a Rs 15,000 crore Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) for the development of basic infrastructure and the promotion of investment in the dairy segment. The government has also expanded the Kisan Credit Cards (KCC) facility to cover the animal husbandry and fishing sector.
Apart from that, attempts have been made through the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) to boost the income of fishermen. An allocation of about Rs 20,000 crore has also been planned in this sector in the next five years, he stated.
Ethanol production encouraged
The President said that the government has also introduced a drive to transform ‘Annadata’ into ‘Urjadata’ in order to enhance the farmers’ income. Under the Pradhan Mantri Kusum Yojana (PMKY), farmers are supplied with some 20 lakh solar pumps. Ethanol production from sugarcane, maize and paddy is also promoted by the government.
Due to the supportive policies of the government, over the past 6 years, the yearly ethanol production increased from 38 crore litres to 190 crore litres. This year, the production is projected to hit 320 crore litres. He observed that ethanol is emerging as a significant source of income growth for farmers.
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The President also referred to the Government’s decision to adopt the recommendations from the Swaminathan Committee report and to raise the minimum support price to at least 1.5 times the production cost.
Fruits and Vegetables
Today, the government not only buys enormous sums at the MSP, but the number of procurement centers is also growing, he explained. With regard to agricultural output, the President has said that the nation’s food grain supply is at a historical high of 296 million tonnes in 2019-20 as compared to 234 million tonnes in 2008-09. Output of fruits and vegetables also rose from 215 million tonnes to 320 million tonnes during the same time, he concluded.