farmers: agriculture budget focuses on digital agriculture, hi-tech service delivery and drones, farmer groups challenge silence on doubling farmers’ incomes

NEW DELHI: The budget, presented by the government on Tuesday, will give a big digital boost to the agricultural sector, proposing the provision of high-tech services to farmers in PPP mode and the use of “Kisan Drones” to help them in multiple activities .
“Use of ‘Kisan Drones’ will be promoted for crop assessment, digitization of land records, insecticide and nutrient spraying,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said during the budget presentation. The government has recently issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the use of drones for various activities in the agricultural sector.
Although the government has increased the agricultural credit target to Rs 18 lakh crore for the financial year 2022-23 from Rs 16.50 lakh crore for the current financial year, the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture as a share of the total budget decreased from 3.78% in 2021-22 to 3.36% in 2022-23. If the Allied Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairy is included, the share fell from 3.87% to 3.51%.
Promote natural agriculture without chemicals starting with farmers’ lands near the Ganga River; promote post-harvest value addition, consumption and branding of millet products; launch of mixed capital funds to finance agricultural start-ups and rural enterprises; and the implementation of the Ken-Betwa river interconnection project are other key budget items for the agricultural sector.
The Ken-Betwa project will be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs. 44,605 ​​crores in the water-starved Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The government has allocated Rs 1,400 crore in 2022-23 for this project. Apart from implementing the Ken-Betwa project which aims to benefit 9.1 lakh hectares of agricultural land, provide drinking water to 62 lakh people and generate 130 MW of hydropower, the Minister of Finance also proposed to work on five other ongoing river project interconnections. implementation process.
“The draft DPRs (Detailed Project Reports) of five river links, namely Damanganga-Pinjal, Par-Tapi-Narmada, Godavari-Krishna, Krishna-Pennar and Pennar-Cauvery have been finalized. Once a consensus is achieved among recipient states, the Center will provide support for implementation,” Sitharaman said.
Although natural agriculture without chemicals will be promoted nationwide, the focus will be on farmers’ land in 5 km wide corridors along the Ganges during the initial phase. Since 2023 was announced as the International Year of Millet, the government has proposed post-harvest value addition, improvement of domestic consumption and branding of millet products at national and international levels in 2022-23.
Farmers’ organizations and experts, however, criticized the budget for its silence on the government’s goal of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022,
“For the first time in 6 years, the budget speech didn’t even mention the promise to double farmers’ incomes (DFI) by 2022, even as we hit the target year. According to the DFI report from the government, the estimated reference income of It was promised that Rs 8,059 per month of 2015-2016 would be doubled in real terms, taking inflation into account. Thus, the target of doubling the income by 2022 is Rs 21,146 per month. At the midpoint of the 6-year period, the estimated monthly income of agricultural households in 2018-2019 was Rs 10,218 per month in nominal terms, as shown by data from the 77th cycle of the NSS through Farm Household Situation Assessment Survey,” said ASHA-Kisan Swaraj, a farmer organization.
He said: “Even if we project the same growth rate over the next three years, the estimated income in 2022 is only Rs 12,955 per month. It is far from the target of Rs 21,146 per month. Meanwhile, the figures from the 77th cycle of the NSS clearly indicate that farmers must depend more on wage income for their livelihoods than on agricultural production.”
On the Finance Minister’s remarks that procurement of wheat in Rabi 2021-22 and estimated procurement of paddy in Kharif 2021-22 will cover 1,208 lakh metric tons of wheat and paddy from 163 lakh farmers, and that will provide Rs 2.37 lakh crore direct payment of the value of the MSP to their accounts, ASHA-Kisan Swaraj said, “While the FM declared the number of farmers who benefited from the purchase of wheat and paddy by the government, as well as the value of these purchases from farmers, the figures indicate that there is in fact a decline in both the quantities purchased and the number of farmers benefiting, as well as the value of the purchase whole itself.”
“The budget announced a reduction in MSP purchases. Farmers campaigned for an MSP guarantee, but the finance minister only talked about paddy and wheat. Even these figures are lower than last year” , said Kiran Vissa of ASHA-Kisan Swaraj. It reported that the number of farmers who benefited from paddy and wheat supply in 2020-21 was 1.97 crores, while the FM reported it was only 1.63 crores This year.

“Additionally, figures from Food Corporation of India (FCI) indicate that only 1208 lakh metric tons were procured from paddy and wheat farmers in 2021-22 while it was 1286 lakh metric tons in 2020-21 “As for the total value of MSP-based procurement operations, it was Rs 2.48 lakh crore in 2020-2021. It has fallen to Rs 2.37 lakh crore this year,” Vissa said.
“Farmers expected financial stimulus to increase farm incomes. However, except for a few initiatives such as natural farming on Ganga Bank, use of drone technology and incentives to Agri-startup, all other budget provisions are repetitive Reduced allocation on purchase of MSP and fertilizer subsidy is indicative of a shift in government philosophy that favors direct transfer to farmers (such as the PM scheme -KISAN) rather than input subsidy,” said Sudhir Panwar, an agriculture expert and former member of Uttar Pradesh’s planning commission.

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