New Delhi: The ruling BJP-government tabled Union Budget for financial year 2021-22, on February 1, amid rising tension between farmers, who have been staging protest against Centre’s three farm laws and demanding its repeal since November 26, and Central government, which has refused to scrap it. It was expected that the central government would try to please the farmers in this budget.
Where, the Budget for 2021-22, has been called out by many for not offering anything big to uplift the corona-impacted limping Indian economy, instead selling out every public sector to private players, the opposition called it “anti-people, anti-farmer Budget”.
Let’s asses what Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has offered Indian farmers in her highly talked about Budget,
Kisan Credit Cards for Farmers:
Where the government has already announced that Kisan Credit Card will be provided to the beneficiaries of Prime Minister Kisan Samman Nidhi, Finance Minister also reiterated the same while presenting her Budget. In addition to KCC, solar pump scheme for farmers, another major announcement was also proposed to set up a warehouse to promote horticulture.
The proposal to spend one lakh crore rupees on highway development in Tamil Nadu, is deemed as a very modest step for the agricultural sector that employs 60 percent of the country’s population.
Total two lakh 83 thousand crore rupees have been allocated in this general Budget on agriculture, rural development and irrigation.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during her budget speech asserted that the government has given special focus to three areas for building an aspirational India. It includes; education, skills, besides agriculture, irrigation and rural development, health, water and sanitation. Total 2.83 lakh crores were promised to spend on agriculture, rural development, irrigation and allied works.
The government claimed that it is committed to double farmers’ income by 2022 and will continue to focus mainly on farmers and rural poor. FM also informed that nearly 6.11 crore farmers have got insured under the Prime Minister Crop Insurance Scheme.
Loan for Farmers:
The biggest step taken by Finance Minister to uplift the agriculture sector in her Budget 2021-22 was her promise to give loans of up to one lakh crore rupees to about one crore farmers, with a target of a loan of INR 15 lakh crore for 2020-21. However, this is a debatable topic as how much development will come by this loan system and how will the loan system work.
In assurance to the farm sector, Sitharaman also proposed to increase agriculture credit target to INR 16.5 lakh crore.
“Our government is committed to the welfare of farmers. The MSP regime has undergone a change to assure price that is at least 1.5 times the cost of production across all commodities,” said Sitharaman.
When tens of thousand farmers are protesting for a legal guarantee to minimum support (MSP) price fearing that the government will end the MSP system after implementation of the three contentious farm laws aimed at freeing up the agriculture markets, FM Sitharaman in her Budget speech reassured farmers that MSP system will continue and will be further strengthened.
MSP regime has assured 1.5 times more price to farmers: Sitharaman
— ANI Digital (@ani_digital) February 1, 2021
In its commitment to develop APMCs, the government has announced to allocate INR one lakh crore infrastructure fund for the infrastructure development of state-controlled mandis. This may end the fear of protesting farmers that the Centre is planning to destroy mandi system through new farm laws.
Presenting the Budget she said, “Procurement has also continued to increase at a steady pace. This has resulted in increase in payment to farmers substantially. In case of wheat, the total payment made to farmers in 2013-14 was INR 33,874 crore. In 2019-20 it was INR 62,802 crore and in 2020-21, it was INR 75,060 crore.”
“Cotton farmers saw stupendous increase in the amount that was paid to them in 2013-14, that was INR 90 crore and it was increased to over INR 25,000 crore in 2020-21,” said Sitharaman.
She further added that procurement of crops like paddy, wheat, pulses and cotton has jumped manifold in the last six years. Nirmala Sitharaman said a total of 43.36 lakh farmers have benefited from these payments.
Given to promises made by the government in its general Budget 2021-22, it seems like there is a lot done to change the fate of Indian farmers. Meanwhile, government also seemed to have clear its stand on three contentious farm laws and is ready to talk with the agitating farmers to educate them about the benefits it hold for them.