Govt is committed to welfare of farmers
During the last four and a half years, several steps have been taken by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare in the interest of farmers as "farmers' welfare" is the primary goal of the this government's agricultural policy. Increasing employment in the agricultural sector and enhancing the income of farmers are at the top of the government's agenda. The government is trying to increase productivity, reduce cost, and prioritise crops with high value, reduce risks and make agriculture sustainable are important factors to achieve the set of goals.
The government, which is led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has increased budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector by 74 per cent and the SDRF allocation has been almost doubled. Corpus funds such as Rs 5,000 crore for micro-irrigation, Rs 10,081 crore for dairy processing and infrastructure development, Rs 7,550 for fisheries and aquaculture infrastructure development, Rs 2,450 crore for development of animal husbandry infrastructure and Rs 2,000 crore for the development of rural agricultural market infrastructure have created.
Several policy reforms have been carried out with the above financial provisions. For the first time, soil health cards are being provided to farmers on the basis of a national standard, e-NAM has been started to help farmers receive fair value of their produce and Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna to cover the maximum risk of farmers' crops based on the scale of finance by removing capping on minimum premium.
The soil health card and Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana for organic farming, har medh par ped for sustainable agriculture, 'per drop more crop' with special emphasis on micro irrigation and restructured national bamboo mission.
In the last four years, agricultural credit flow has increased by 57 per cent to Rs 11 lakh crore and interest subsidy has also been increased by one and half times to Rs 15,000 crore. To increase the income of the farmers, 546 FPO has been constituted by the SFAC besides state governments and FPOs of NABARD during this tenure.
In its efforts to double the income of the farmers by 2022, MSPs of 24 crops have been raised by 1.5 times of the production cost, thereby fulfilling the government's promise. There has been an unprecedented increase of upto 15 times in purchase by the government through PSS, PSF and MIS schemes.
In order to make Indian agriculture competitive a new export policy been formulated and with various efforts of the Modi government and there has been 95 per cent increase in the export value of marine products, 84 per cent rice, 77 per cent fresh fruits, 43 per cent fresh vegetables and 38 per cent spices.
For agricultural processing, tomato, onion and potato clusters will be set up under the TOP scheme. Necessary steps are being taken for the creation of an infrastructure of 22,000 rural haats. Setting up of cold chains and warehouses will be expedited. Focus on price and demand forecasting will enable farmers to choose which crop to sow in order to maximize benefit.
Special emphasis is being given to Rashtriya Gokul Mission, sex-sorted semen, and the development of dairy infrastructure.
I am confident that with these efforts, the government will be successful in doubling farmers' income by 2022.
The writer is Union Agriculture Minister