Farmers are set to resume their march to Delhi after talks with Centre fell through

New Delhi:

Hours before farmers resume their march to Delhi, sources in the Centre have said that the Narendra Modi government has taken several pro-farmer steps during its 10 years in power, including a hike in budget allocation for agriculture, assistance under the PM-Kisan scheme and the Kisan credit card system.

“The budget allocation has been increased by 5.26 times in 2023-24 as compared to the year 2013-14,” a source said, adding that the budgets in the past decade have put emphasis on promoting agriculture sector through technology so that farmers get comprehensive benefits in the long run.

The government, sources said, has been transferring Rs 6,000 annually to the bank account of farmers since December 2018. “An amount of Rs. 2.81 lakh crore has been given in cash to more than 11 crore farmers,” the source said.

The sources also listed steps such as setting up new farmer producer organisations to provide support to small farmers and an infrastructure fund scheme.

The government sources put forward arguments on how it has worked to increase Minimum Support Price (MSP) for several crops. MSP is a price fixed by the government and is aimed at protecting farmers from distress sale of their produce. One of the key reasons behind talks between the farmers and the Centre falling through is a disagreement over which MSP formula to follow. The farmers say the government’s conditions to provide MSP would only provide subsistence and not income.

The government, sources said, has increased MSP for mandated kharif, rabi and other commercial crops with a return of at least 50 per cent over all India weighted average cost of production from 2018-19.

The sources added that the government’s procurement from farmers has also increased. “The procurement under PSS (Price Support Scheme) during the year 2021-22, a quantity of 31,82,591.64 MT of pulses, oilseeds and copra having MSP value of Rs. 17,478.31 crore benefiting 14,68,699 farmers and during 2022-23 season a quantity of 40,02,057.73 MT of pulses, oilseeds & copra having MSP Value of Rs. 22,728.23 crore benefiting 17,27,663 farmers had been done,” a source said.

Under the Kisan Credit Card scheme, the sources said, the government has earmarked a credit outlay of Rs 20 lakh crore to farmers in 2023-24. The benefits of the scheme, they said, have also been extended to animal husbandry and fisheries farmers so that they can meet short-term working capital needs.

The government sources also underlined its emphasis on millet production by listing how it used national and international forums to showcase the benefits of millet consumption and step up research into its production.

The Centre’s steps to address the air pollution in Delhi were also put forward. “In order to support the efforts of the Government of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi to address air pollution due to crop residue burning, funds amounting to Rs.3138.56 crores have been released to these states during the period from 2018-19 to 2022-23, for crop residue management through mechanization interventions,” a source said.

Sources in the government explained how the Centre had expanded crop insurance under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. To bolster their points, they asserted how food grain production increased from 265.05 million tonnes in 2013-14 to 329.69 million tonnes in 2022-23 — the highest ever. The Kisan Rail initiative was started to save produce of farmers from getting spoiled, they said.

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