Recognizing the strength of the farm sector, the Centre will give priority to agriculture and rural development in the Budget 2021. This will come in the backdrop of ongoing farmers protest over the new farm bills.
According to the Economic Survey 2020-21, while the industry and services sectors are projected to fall by 9.6 per cent and 8.8 per cent, respectively, in the current financial year, the growth rate of agriculture and allied sectors can remain at 3.4 per cent. The agriculture and allied sectors recorded a growth rate of 3.4 per cent at constant prices during FY2020-21.
A senior official of the Agricultural Ministry said that farmers’ awareness about all the schemes of agriculture sector, including Prime Minister Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) is continuously increasing and the benefits of these schemes are beginning to be seen at the ground level.
The Centre’s priority has also been to double the income of farmers by 2022 and to develop basic facilities in villages, including “pucca” houses for all the poor in the country. As such, the budgetary allocation of major schemes of agriculture and rural development sector can be expected to increase in the upcoming Budget.
The government will also focus on the scheme to provide short-term agricultural loans to farmers at affordable interest rates. Other schemes include the Prime Minister Crop Insurance Scheme, and the Prime Minister Agricultural Irrigation Scheme.
According to agricultural economists, the government will also give prominence to the plans of the food processing industry, which will help in achieving the goal of doubling the income of farmers. They believe that in the upcoming Budget, other rural development schemes, such as MNREGA, can also be achieved. The budgetary allocation of MNREGA was Rs 61,500 crore in 2020-21, but under the self-sufficient package in the corona-era, an additional allocation of Rs 40,000 crore was made for the scheme.
And a major issue that needs to be addressed by the government is the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for the purchase of crops. The agitating farmers have been demanding a legal guarantee for the purchase of crops at MSP.