Finance Minister stated that the Union Budget 2019 made sure that agriculture sector gets prominence while responding to the general discussion on Union Budget 2019 in Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
The Finance Minister's comment came in response to the criticism that her maiden Budget speech did not include anything for the troubled agriculture sector.
"I have elaborated much during my Budget speech - it was for the agriculture sector, it was for farmers' welfare, it was for modernising agriculture... " FM Sitharaman said. The Finance Minister said that the government is working towards a comprehensive solution for the several challenges of the agriculture-related matters sector, not forgetting that the legacy troubles in the agriculture sector have not arisen during the 2014-19 period alone.
"It is our government that has very early realised that agriculture sector needs huge transformational steps. It is in this context that the Prime Minister had committed to doubling of farmers income by 2022. Our govt has developed a strategy for doubling farmers' income based on the recommendations of the committee on this goal," Sitharaman told the Lok Sabha.
Sitharaman quoted figures to support the government's claim that matters in the agriculture sector have improved. "Our country now produces food grains totalling 298 metric tonnes. Horticulture export is 385 metric tonnes, and 180 metric tonnes of milk is now being produced," she said.
Sitharaman also emphasised on the steps taken to improve distribution of fertilisers among farmers. "Neem-coated urea is being promoted and providing easy access to all the farmers for fertilizers which have reduced the cost of cultivation. After 2014, we have never seen queues of farmers waiting for fertilizers, there has no lathi charge. Earlier, when farmers used to go to get fertilizers, they were beaten," the Finance Minister stated.
During her address, FM Sitharaman said that all the items under the MSPP list now get minimum 50 per cent as the profit margin over cost of production. She earlier stated that all the commodities for which MSP is notified have seen a big jump in the MSPs. FM Sitharaman said that out of the 272 recommendations (from the Swaminathan Committee), some of the recommendations have been already implemented, including the ones on MSP.
The Finance Minister stated that the Ministry of Commerce has adopted an agri export policy to with the motive to double the agricultural exports by 2022, along with the farmers' income.
After a mention of the ambitious PM-Kisan scheme, Sitharaman announced that the government is working on a pension scheme for all farmers called Pradhan Mantri Maan Sammaan Yojana. She further added that the focus is on risk management via crop insurance scheme.
"5.61 crore farmers have been covered under the insurance schemes between 2018 and 20119 over an area of about 30 per cent of the gross cropped area. And we are taking steps to use special technology and ensure that is conducted in the presence of all concerned stakeholders," Sitharaman added.
(Edited by Vivek Punj)