What is the use of strategy when no special budget was allocated to double farmers’ income, says a senior NITI Aayog official anonymously
In a two-day closed door meeting on doubling farmers’ income, the government claimed that there is no lack of funds to implement a seven-point strategy devised to double farmers’ income by 2022.
The national conference, Agriculture 2022 - Doubling Farmers’ Income, which ends today, hosts sessions with economists, scientists, trade industry, professional associates, representatives of corporate and private sector companies, farmers, non-profits and academics.
What is strange about this meeting is that it was organised after the budget 2018-19 was announced.
“What is the use of strategy when there is no special budget allocated or targeted for this purpose,” a senior NITI Aayog officer told Down To Earth on the condition of anonymity. “It is just fine tuning the current ongoing schemes to suit devised strategies,” he added.
The need for immediate strategies is to save the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled agrarian states, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, from losing in the upcoming elections.
The seven point strategy emphasises on irrigation, quality seeds and nutrients, investment in warehouses and cold chain, promotion of value addition and food processing, implementation of e-NAM, insurance of crops and promotion of allied activities, such as bee-keeping, dairy-animal husbandry, and horticulture & fisheries.
Union agriculture minister, Radha Mohan Singh said in his inaugural address that the government has allocated sufficient funds in this budget. The budget for the agriculture ministry has been increased from Rs 51,576 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 58,080 crore in 2018-19.
This budget also announced an allocation of Rs 2,000 crore for Agri Market Development Fund to develop 22,000 rural haats and 585 Agricultural Produce Market Committee to be developed.
The minister acknowledged that there are wide economic disparities which exist in far-flung remote areas. “It is a challenge to ensure physical and economic access of basic goods to far-flung remote areas,” said Singh. “Our government is working towards it by making policy favourable to rural areas and soon it will yield satisfactory results,” he added.
The meeting was attended by the Governor of Himachal Pradesh, Acharya Devvrat, NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar, Union Minister of State for Agriculture, Farmers' Welfare & Panchayati Raj Parshottam Rupala, Minister of State Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Minister of State Krishna Raj and S K Pattanayak, Secretary, Department of Agriculture.
On February 20, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will conclude the meeting at the NASC Complex at Pusa, New Delhi.
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