New Delhi, 01 February 2022: While presenting the Union Budget 2022-23 in the Parliament today, the Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman said “the procurement of wheat in Rabi 2021-22 and the estimated procurement of paddy in Kharif 2021-22 will cover 1208 lakh metric tonnes of wheat and paddy from 163 lakh farmers, and `2.37 lakh crore direct payment of MSP value to their accounts”.

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Following are the important announcements pertaining to agriculture sector:

Digital and hi-tech services for farmers

The Finance Minister said that a new scheme will be launched in PPP mode under which farmers will be provided with digital and hi-tech services. There will be involvement of public sector research and extension institutions along with private agri-tech players and stakeholders of agri-value chain.

Start-up Fund for agriculture and rural enterprise

While emphasizing on the start-up ecosystem in agriculture, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman said that a fund with blended capital, raised under the co-investment model, will be facilitated through NABARD. The aim of the fund will be to “finance startups for agriculture & rural enterprise, relevant for farm produce value chain”. The activities for these startups will include, inter alia, machinery for farmers on rental basis at farm level, and technology including IT-based support for FPOs.

Ken-Betwa Link Project

The Finance Minister said, “Implementation of the Ken-Betwa Link Project, at an estimated cost of ` 44,605 crore will be taken up”. Its aim is to provide irrigation benefits to 9.08 lakh hectare of farmers’ lands. It will also provide “drinking water supply for 62 lakh people in addition to 103 MW of Hydro, and 27 MW of solar power”. She added that allocations of ` 4,300 crore in RE 2021-22 and ` 1,400 crore in 2022-23 have been made for this project. She further reiterated that the draft DPRs of five river links- Damanganga-Pinjal, Par-Tapi- Narmada, Godavari-Krishna, Krishna-Pennar and Pennar-Cauvery have been finalized. The Centre will provide support for implementation after the consensus among beneficiary states.

Kisan Drones

While highlighting the use of new technology, the Finance Minister said that the use of ‘Kisan Drones’ will be promoted for crop assessment, digitization of land records, spraying of insecticides, and nutrients.

Chemical-free Natural Farming

The budget also focused on natural farming devoid of any chemical use. The Finance Minister said, “Chemical-free Natural Farming will be promoted throughout the country, with a focus on farmers’ lands in 5-km wide corridors along river Ganga, at the first stage”.

Support for millet products

The budget provided for post-harvest value addition, enhancing domestic consumption, and for branding millet products nationally and internationally.

Scheme for oilseed production

The Finance Minister announced the implementation of a comprehensive scheme for boosting domestic oilseeds production. She said, “To reduce dependence on import of oilseeds, a rationalised and comprehensive scheme to increase domestic production of oilseeds will be implemented”.

Food Processing

The Finance Minister announced that the government will provide a comprehensive package with participation of state governments so that the farmers can adopt “suitable varieties of fruits and vegetables”, and can use “appropriate production and harvesting techniques”.

The Finance Minister further highlighted that the states will be encouraged to revise syllabi of agricultural universities so as to meet the needs of natural, zero-budget and organic farming, modern-day agriculture, value addition and management.