- Villages and farmers are at heart of this year's budget, PM Modi said
- The Prime Minister called it a "proactive budget"
- The debate over farmers' income has been a red-hot issue
Farmers and villages are at the "heart of this year's budget", Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today amid a red-hot debate over farmers' income that is sweeping several states including Punjab and Haryana. Calling it a "proactive budget", PM Modi said, "There has been focus on helping farmers increase their income".
Concern over a gradual phasing out of Minimum Support Prices offered by the government has triggered bitter protests after three farm laws were passed in parliament in September.
The government, which has been focusing on hiking the MSP to address the issue, today said the MSP regime had gone through "sea change" to assure prices at least 1.5 times the production cost.
There has also been a sharp increase in procurement of foodgrain and payment to farmers, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, adding, "The government is committed to the welfare of farmers."
Presenting the Union budget in parliament, Ms Sitharaman said from Rs 33,874 crore in 2013-2014, the total amount paid to farmers for wheat went up to Rs 75,060 crore in 2020-2021. The number of wheat growing farmers who benefitted went up from 35.57 lakh in 2019-20 to 43.36 lakh in 2020-21.
For paddy, the amount paid in 2013-14 was Rs 63,928 crore. In 2020-2021, this is further estimated to increase to `172,752 crore. The number of farmers who benefitted increased from 1.24 crore in 2019-20 to 1.54 crore in 2020-21.
To boost value addition in agriculture and allied products and their exports, "the scope of 'Operation Green Scheme' that is presently applicable to tomatoes, onions, and potatoes, will be enlarged to include 22 perishable products", the minister said.
To provide adequate credit to our farmers, the agricultural credit target for this year has been set at 16.5 lakh crore, Ms Sitharaman said.
Besides 1,000 more agricultural mandis – another area of concern for farmers – will be integrated into the government's national digital agricultural trading platform "eNAM".
Alongside spending in agriculture, the government has also increased the scope of the Prime Minister's SWAMITVA Scheme –which keeps a record of rights given to property owners in 1,241 villages– will be extended to cover all states and Union Territories.