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Budget 2021: What President Kovind says for Agriculture in joint sitting of two houses of Parliament

Pritam Kashyap
Pritam Kashyap
President Ram Nath Kovind's address the joint sitting of two houses of Parliament

President Ram Nath Kovind addressed the joint sitting of Parliament which is being held first time during the time of the Coronavirus pandemic. Kovind said, "It is the beginning of a new year and a new decade. We will also be entering the 75th year of India’s independence this year. All the Members of Parliament present here today embody the conviction held by every Indian that the toughest of challenges will deter neither us nor India."

Let's look under the Schemes What Kovind said:

Under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana’, 80 crore people were provided with an additional 5 kg free food grains per month for 8 months. The Government was also mindful of the plight of migrant labourers, workers and those who were away from their homes. Besides providing them with the facility of ‘One Nation- One Ration Card’, the Government made free food grains available and organized Shramik Special trains for them.

The government also launched the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan in 6 states in order to provide employment to the returnee migrant labourers in their villages, during the pandemic. As a result of this Abhiyan, 50 crore man days of employment were generated.

The Government also launched SVANidhi - a special scheme for street vendors and hawkers. Further, an amount of approximately Rs 31,000 crore was directly transferred to the Jan Dhan accounts of poor women. During this period, more than 14 crore gas cylinders were given free of cost throughout the country to poor women beneficiaries, under the Ujjwala scheme.

President said, "Our goal of an Atmanirbhar Bharat will be further strengthened by self-reliance in agriculture. With this idea, the Government has, over the last 6 years, attempted to bring a positive transformation in the ‘Seed to Market’ system so that Indian agriculture is modernized and also sees growth. In pursuance of these efforts, my Government decided to implement the recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee report and increased the MSP to at least 1.5 times the cost of production. Today my Government is not only purchasing record quantities at the MSP but is also increasing the number of procurement centres."

Widespread improvements are being brought in various sources of irrigation. Following the mantra of ‘Per Drop More Crop’, the Government is not only completing the pending irrigation projects but is also delivering modern irrigation techniques to the farmers. In 2013-14, only 42 lakh hectares of land was under micro-irrigation whereas today, more than 56 lakh hectares of land has been brought under micro-irrigation.

He also said, "I am happy to say that through their hard work, our farmers are augmenting the efforts of the Government. Today, the food grain availability in the country is at a record high. In 2008-09, the food grain production in the country was 234 million tonnes, whereas, in 2019-20, the production has increased to 296 million tonnes. During the same period, the production of fruits and vegetables has also increased from 215 million tonnes to 320 million tonnes. I congratulate the farmers of the country for these achievements."

The Government also accords priority to these small and marginal farmers too. In order to provide expenditure support to these farmers, almost Rs 1,13,000 crore have been directly transferred to their bank accounts under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana has also benefitted small farmers of this country. Under this scheme in the last 5 years, about Rs 90,000 crores have been paid as compensation to the farmers against a premium of Rs 17,000 crore.

The mission for setting up 10,000 Farmer Producer Organisations by bringing together small farmers of the country is also an impactful step. This has ensured access of small farmers to better technology, additional credit, post-harvesting processing and marketing facilities and insurance coverage during natural calamities, on the same footing as the rich farmers. This has also provided an alternative to farmers for securing remunerative prices for their produce and generating greater savings.

Kovind said, "After extensive consultation, the Parliament approved 3 important farm reform bills 7 months ago, namely, The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill. The benefits of these three important farm reforms have started reaching more than 10 crore small farmers instantly. Appreciating the advantages that these reforms would bring to the small farmers, several political parties too had, from time to time, expressed their support. The discussions over these farm reforms in every part of the country for over 2 decades and the demand for these reforms at different fora were also reflected during the deliberations in the House.

Presently, the Apex Court has stayed the implementation of these laws. My Government respects the decision of the Apex Court and shall abide by it."

In order to enhance the profitability of agriculture, my Government is also placing emphasis on creating modern agricultural infrastructure. The Agriculture Infrastructure Fund for Rs 1,00,000 crore has also been started for this purpose.

The Kisan Rail, started throughout the country, is helping chart a new course by increasing the access of Indian farmers to new markets. This rail is like mobile cold storage. So far, over 100 Kisan Rails have been started which have enabled the farmers to transport over 38,000 tonnes of food grains and fruits & vegetables from one region to the other.

Kovind also said, "In order to increase the income of farmers, my Government has also focused on the development of livestock as a source of income. As a result, the livestock of the country has been increasing at an annual rate of 8.2 % over the last 5 years. The Government has also set up the Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund for Rs 15,000 crore for creating basic infrastructure and encouraging investment in the dairy sector.

My Government has also extended the facility of Kisan Credit Cards to animal husbandry and fishery sectors. Efforts have been undertaken to increase the income of fishermen through the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana. In this sector, an investment of about Rs 20,000 crore has been planned over the next 5 years."

Further, in order to increase the income of the farmers, the Government has also launched a campaign to turn the ‘Annadata’ into ‘Urjadata’. 20 lakh solar pumps are being provided to farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Kusum Yojana. Government is also encouraging the production of ethanol from sugarcane, maize and paddy. Due to the affirmative policies of the Government, over the past 6 years, the annual ethanol production has increased from 38 crore litres to 190 crore litres. The production is expected to reach 320 crore litres this year. Ethanol is emerging as a major source for augmenting the income of farmers. 

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