New Delhi: Reaching out to farmers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday showcased his government's "unprecedented" work in the agriculture sector, including doubling of the budget to Rs 2.12 lakh crore.
Modi also reiterated that his government is working to double farm income by 2022.
Continuing his outreach programme of direct interaction with beneficiaries of his pet schemes, Modi spoke to farmers from over 600 districts via video-conferencing, highlighting the government interventions right from seeds to market that is aimed at addressing farm distress.
The government, through an extensive and balanced policy, is aiming to provide inputs like quality seeds, fertilisers, water and electricity as well as markets for increasing farmers' income, he said.
"We have decided to double farmers income by 2022... When I talked about doubling of farmers income, there were many people who made fun that this is not possible and difficult. They created an atmosphere of doom. But we decided as I had full faith in farmers," Modi said.
To achieve this target, he said the four cornerstones of the government policy are cutting input cost, fair price for the crop, preventing post-harvest losses and creating alternate sources of income.
Modi said in the Budget for 2018-19 fiscal, the government announced that the minimum support price (MSP) for all crops will be fixed at least 1.5 times the cost of production. He also listed out all the costs that will be included while fixing the MSP.
"The budget allocation for the agriculture sector in 5 years of the previous government was Rs 1.21 lakh crore. This has been increased to Rs 2.12 lakh crore during 2014-19, which is almost double. This clearly reflects our commitment to farmers welfare," Modi said.
Stating that there has been "unprecedented development" in the farm sector during the last four years, the Prime Minister highlighted that foodgrains production in the country touched an all-time high of 280 million tonnes during 2017-18 crop year as against an average production of 250 million tonnes during 2010-14.
There has also been bumper production of fruits, vegetables and milk, he said, adding that pulses production has increased by an average 10.5 percent. Production of fish and milk grew by 26 percent and 24 percent, respectively. Egg output has risen by 25 percent.
"Our effort is to provide farmers assistance at all stage of agriculture -- at the time of sowing, after sowing and at the time of harvesting," he said, adding the policy interventions are being planned to help farmers right from seeds to markets.
First, soil health cards are being provided to help farmers better understand soil nutrient status of his/her holding and advice them on the dosage of fertilisers.
Thereafter, loans are being made available to farmers to help them procure good quality seeds, he said, adding neem coating of urea has ensured that black-marketing of the crop nutrient is stopped and farmers get it without any problem.
To ensure farmers get the right price for their crops, Modi said an online platform e-NAM has been started to eliminate middlemen. As many as 22,000 rural markets are also being linked to wholesale mandis.
The government is also giving special attention to allied sectors like fisheries, dairy and bee-keeping to boost farmers income, he added.
The Prime Minister said farmers should get full credit for ensuring the country's food security but rued that "from the beginning, farmers were left to fend for themselves" which resulted in their shrinking prosperity.
Modi highlighted the various initiatives launched by the government in the last four years such as soil health cards, new crop insurance scheme, irrigation programme and e-NAM, among others.
Under Prime Minister Krishi Sinchaee Yojna, Modi said about 100 projects are being completed so that water reaches all agriculture fields. The government is promoting drip irrigation to achieve "per drop more crop" and reduce input cost.
Modi said farmers can increase their income by value-addition of farm produce.
The Prime Minister highlighted that more than 500 farmer producers organisations have been established in the last four years which help farmers in getting more sales realisation with lower input costs. These FPOs have been exempted from income tax.
Talking about the new crop insurance scheme, Modi said farmers were not getting any claim under the previous scheme.
"We have reduced premium and scope of insurance has been widened," he said, adding that this has helped in increasing the insurance coverage by 60-65 percent.
Modi said the government has provided soil health cards to 12.5 crore farmers in the last four years, helping farmers to boost yields and cut input cost.
Interacting with farmers from the North-East, he said 21 lakh hectares have been brought under organic farming as against 7 lakh hectares in 2013-14.