The Narendra Modi government has repeatedly stated its commitment to doubling farmer incomes in India. To that end, Budget 2020 had also made a large number of announcements that tackle the challenge head on. A series of initiatives and schemes have already been undertaken and are ongoing. A few such initiatives were highlighted by the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Shri Narendra Singh Tomar in the Lok Sabha on 11 February 2020, while replying to a series of questions related to agriculture sector initiatives of the Modi government.
Ensuring the Right Procurement Prices
The procurement policy of Government of India (GOI) has been kept open ended, under which paddy and wheat offered by farmers all over the country within the stipulated period are purchased for Central Pool at Minimum Support Price (MSP) by Food Corporation of India (FCI)/State Governments/State Government Agencies to help farmers get remunerative price and prevent distress cell. However, if any producer/farmer gets better price in comparison to MSP, he/she is free to sell his/her produce in open market. Coarse grains are procured at MSP by State Government as per the procurement plan prepared in consultation with FCI and approved by the Central Government.
A Price Support Scheme (PSS) for procurement of oilseeds, pulses and cotton is implemented through Central Nodal Agencies at the declared MSP. Losses, if any, are reimbursed by the Government of India to the Central Nodal Agencies. Further, a Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) has been implemented to protect the growers of crops not covered under MSP scheme from making distress sale.
Farm Mechanization Critical to Raising Farmer Incomes
Minister Tomar in another reply pointed out that improved agricultural implements and machinery are essential inputs to enhance productivity and reducing cost of cultivation while ensuring resource efficiency.
To boost farm mechanization in India, a special dedicated scheme Sub Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) has been introduced by the Modi Government. Under this scheme, subsidy is provided for purchase of various types of Agricultural implements and machinery used for tillage, sowing, planting, harvesting, reaping, threshing, plant protection, inter cultivation and residue management.
Also, a special Central Sector Scheme on ‘‘Promotion of Agricultural Mechanization for In-Situ Management of Crop Residue in the States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi” (CRM) for the period from 2018-19 to 2019-20 has been launched. This scheme primarily works to address air pollution due to stubble burning. Under the CRM scheme, the establishment of CHC centres for in-situ crop residue management is promoted by giving financial assistance up to 80% of the project cost to the farmers for the machinery.
Further, to make available costly and bigger advance farm machinery at the door steps of the farmers on rent basis, the Modi government has been promoting Custom Hiring Centres (CHC) through a SMAM scheme. Under this scheme, subsidy of 40% of the project cost is provided to individual farmer on a project cost of ₹60 lakh, while subsidy up to 80% for project cost of₹10 lakh can be availed by group of farmers. For the North East, 95% subsidy upto a project cost of ₹10 lakh is provided to farmer groups to establish these CHC centres. For project in the North East of cost up to ₹2.5 crores, assistance up to 40% of project cost is provided.
The Government has also developed and launched a Multi lingual Mobile App “CHC- Farm Machinery” to help farmers find CHCs in their area farm machinery and implement the machinery.
The Minister informed the house that to date, 44,607 CHCs with 1,39,319 Agricultural machinery for renting out are registered on this Mobile app. Total 1,14,461 farmers as users are registered on this Mobile App.
Easing, Cheapening Credit for Farmers
The Government’s Kisan Credit Card (KCC) Scheme enables farmers to purchase agricultural inputs and draw cash to satisfy their agricultural and consumption needs. The KCC Scheme has now been simplified and converted into an ATM enabled RuPay Debit Card with facilities of one-time documentation, built-in cost escalation in the limit, any number of drawals within the limit, etc. This has smoothened the
Moreover, to ensure availability of agriculture credit at a reduced interest rate of 7% per annum to the farmers, the Modi government has implemented an interest subvention scheme for short term crop loans upto ₹3 lakh. The scheme provides interest subvention of 2% per annum to Banks on use of their own resources. An additional 3% incentive is also given to the farmers for prompt repayment of the loan, thereby reducing the effective rate of interest to 4%.
Promoting Efficient Crop Irrigation to Boost Incomes
Minister Tomar informed the house about The Per Drop More Crop component of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY-PDMC), operational since 2015-16. The initiative focuses on enhancing water use efficiency at farm level through Micro Irrigation viz. Drip and Sprinkler irrigation. More than 42 lakh hectares of farm land has been covered under PMKSY-PDMC since 2015-16 till date. Of this, drip irrigation covers 23 lakh hectares, and sprinkler irrigation systems cover 19 lakh hectares.
To encourage its adoption, the Modi government provides financial assistance for installation of Drip and Sprinkler Irrigation systems, up to 55% for small and marginal farmers and up to 45% for other farmers.
The Modi government has also publicized the benefits of micro irrigation through various media channels and has also set up demonstration units in 160 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) for educating the farmers.
These are just some of the schemes that have been introduced by the Modi government to fulfil its promise of doubling farmer incomes. The positive, transformational changes arising as a result are for all to see, as we had documented in an earlier story.