Highlights of Finance Minister’s Budget Speech: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the annual budget on Tuesday, with an announcement of Rs 2.37 lakh crore for direct payment of Minimum Support Price (MSP) to wheat and rice farmers by fiscal year 2022. The focus was on ensuring secure income for farmers.
The Finance Minister said in his budget speech: “The agricultural procurement price will be Rs 2.37 lakh crore for the fiscal year 2022-23.” The announcement comes after months of agitation by farmers demanding guaranteed MSP for agricultural products along with the repeal of three controversial agricultural reform laws introduced by the government in 2020.
1. The Finance Minister said that Indian Railways will develop new efficient logistics products and services for small farmers and small and medium enterprises.
2. The Finance Minister said that the Center will pay ₹2.37 lakh crore for the procurement of wheat and rice under the MSP operation. The estimated purchase of wheat in Rabi 2021-22 and rice in Kharif 2021-22 will include 1208 lakh metric tons of wheat and rice from 163 lakh farmers and MSP direct payment of 2.37 lakh crore to their accounts.
3. Sitharaman said that the Government of India will promote ‘Kisan Drone’ for crop assessment, digitization of land records, spraying of pesticides and nutrients.
4. He said that the Center will also promote chemical-free natural agriculture, the public-private partnership for the delivery of high-tech and digital services to farmers across the country. He stressed that the Center, together with state governments, will provide a comprehensive package for farmers to adopt suitable varieties of fruits and vegetables and use proper production and harvesting techniques.
5. Said a funding facility would be provided through NABARD with mixed capital raised under the co-investment model. It will provide financing to new agricultural and rural enterprises relevant to the value chain of agricultural products. Sitharaman said that the activities of these new companies would include, among other things, support for FPOs, machinery for farmers on a rental basis at the farm level, and technology including IT-based support.
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6. To reduce the dependence on oilseed imports, a rational and comprehensive plan will be implemented to increase domestic oilseed production.
7. According to FM Sitharaman, 5-7% of the biomass pellets will be co-fired in thermal power plants, resulting in CO2 savings of 38 MMT per year. He said it would provide additional income for farmers and job opportunities for local people and help prevent stubble burning in agricultural fields. In the first phase, natural and chemical-free agriculture will be promoted across the country, targeting farmers’ lands in 5km-wide corridors along the banks of the Ganges River.
8. The Minister of Finance said that 2023 has been declared as the International Year of Millet. Therefore, the Finance Minister said that the Center will support post-harvest value addition, increase the domestic consumption of millet, as well as the branding of millet products domestically and internationally.
9. States will be encouraged to revise the curriculum of agricultural universities to meet the needs of natural zero budget and organic agriculture, modern agriculture, value addition and management.
10. The Finance Minister also said that the government will bring the necessary policy and legislative changes to promote agroforestry and private forestry. In addition, financial assistance will be provided to those farmers belonging to recognized castes and tribes who wish to adopt agroforestry.