Indian agriculture blooms beyond expectations

Narendra Singh Tomar
Under the leadership of our popular and visionary Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the Nation is reaping a bountiful harvest of all-round efforts made by the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in the last eight years.
Several innovative initiatives taken by the Ministry in the form of schemes and programmes, in order to ensure the commitment and accountability of the Government, have resulted in ushering sweeping reforms in the direction and state of farmers and farming across the country. The livelihood standards of the farmers are improving and agricultural finances provided by the Centre are reaching them directly through bank accounts with complete transparency.
The income of farmers has risen in various aspects and a new wave is visible as agriculture has emerged as a viable business proposition. Government's schemes, programmes and all other activities have always been focussed towards this effort to empower farmers become agricultural entrepreneurs.
In the last 8 years, the budget allocation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has been continuously hiked and several schemes rolled out with an aim to make agriculture sector farmer-friendly. The allocation of agriculture budget in the current financial year to about Rs 1.32 lakh crore is a reflection of the devotion of the Central Government towards the welfare of farmers. The budget allocation for agriculture has increased by almost 6 times in the last 8 years.
The journey of development in the agriculture sector does not end here. Besides increased allocation, the record production of food grains and horticultural crops is also a proof of the budget allocation being spent in the right direction. According to the Third Advance Estimates for the year 2021-22, the production of food grains is estimated at about 315 million tonnes, while the production of the horticulture sector is also estimated at 334 million tonnes, which is the highest ever.
Indeed, it is no small matter that in the midst of the challenges of the Covid pandemic, India has supplied food grains to many needy countries and even during the Russia-Ukraine crisis, India has once again emerged as a major source of food grains supply to the world. Not only is the production of food grains showing a steady increase in the country at a record level, but the exports of agriculture produce is also rising continuously, which has reached almost Rs 4 lakh crore.
Keeping in mind the better remuneration to farmers and their livelihood, the government has continuously increased the Minimum Support Price for Kharif, Rabi and other commercial crops. As a result the MSP of paddy rose to Rs 1940 per quintal from Rs 1310 per quintal in 2013-14. Similarly, in the year 2013-14, the MSP of wheat was Rs  1400 per quintal, which is now raised to Rs 2015 per quintal.
During the Rabi Marketing Season (RMS) 2021-22, 433.44 lakh MT of wheat was procured by the Government at MSP, which is the highest ever. Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir have seen the highest procurement of wheat so far. The success story does not close here, data also reveals that a sum of Rs 85,604.40 crore was credited to 49.19 lakh wheat producing farmers during the RMS directly into their bank accounts in a transparent manner.
Continuing its commitment towards the farmers, the Government has credited around Rs 1.82 lakh crore to about 11.5 crore farmers directly into their bank accounts under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Yojana (Total Rs 6,000 per annum in three equal instalments). This scheme is one of the most comprehensive and key schemes of the Central Government and also a symbol of devotion to farmers, in which there is no role for middlemen.
Fulfilling the Government's sincere efforts towards improving soil health, the Soil Health Card has been provided to crores of farmers. Keeping in mind the soil health, this scheme is making farmers aware of effective and better farming techniques to get better yield.
Under the guidance of Prime Minister Shri Modi, the Government has made special provision for Organic Farming as well as Natural Farming in this year's general budget. Under this, special attention is paid to soil health with an objective of increasing farmers' income through natural farming and conservation of resources and environment. In Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, works will be undertaken to bring an area of 5 km on both banks of the Ganges river under the Natural Farming through a comprehensive action plan.
The thinking of the Government to promote natural farming does not stop here. The Government has constituted a committee under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to include syllabus related to natural farming in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching courses, and chemical-free natural farming is being supported by the Ministry and ICAR. Keeping in view the contemporary nature of natural farming, ICAR has issued special guidelines to agricultural universities to include research and allied subjects related to natural farming. Natural farming has been able to increase the income of the farmers and is a symbol of the novel thinking of the Central Government towards ensuring better living.
Besides various schemes and programmes, the dedication of the Union Government towards the farmers is also reflected in the Rs 1,00,000 crore allocated for the Agricultural Infrastructure Fund and the Government is committed to provide basic facilities like Godowns, Custom Hiring Centres, Primary Processing Units, Sorting and Grading Units and Cold storage. Through these basic facilities, the Government is committed to provide remunerative prices to farmers for their produce.
In this series, the Government, under the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (Self-Reliant India Campaign) is also giving special promotion to the National Beekeeping and Honey Mission.
(To be contd)