The Centre will promote chemical-free natural farming across the country with primary focus on farmers' lands in 5-km wide corridors along the river Ganga in the first stage, Finance Minister Niramala Sitharaman said while presenting the Union Budget 2022-23 in the Parliament on Tuesday.
"To ensure that farmers adopt natural farming, a comprehensive package for participation of state governments and the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) will be introduced," Sitharaman said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too has been emphasing the importance of chemical-free natural farming for some time now.
"Natural farming will benefit the country's 80 per cent farmers, who are small-scale and have less than two hectares of land, as they spend a lot on chemical input. But using natural fertilisers will benefit them with low expenditure and more profit," Modi had said in December last year.
The Finance Minister further said that Kisan drones will be used for crop assessments, land records, and spraying of insecticides to drive a wave of technology in the agriculture and farming sector. The estimated procurement of wheat in Rabi 2021-22 and paddy in Kharif 2021-22 will cover 1,208 lakh metric tonnes of wheat and paddy from 163 lakh farmers. "About Rs 2.37 lakh crore will be direct payment of MSP to their accounts," she said.
Sitharaman further said that funds will be facilitated through NABARD to finance startups for agriculture and rural enterprise, relevant for farm produce value chain, and the startups will support the Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) to provide the benefit of technology to the farmers. With the implementation of the Ken Betwa Linking project, 9 lakh hectares of farm land will reap the benefits, the minister highlighted.
According to the Economic Survey 2021-22, agriculture and the allied sector proved to be the most resilient to the Covid-19 shock as it registered a growth of 3.6 per cent in 2020-21 and improved to 3.9 per cent in 2021-22, driving the overall Indian economy's real GDP expansion of 9.2 per cent in the current financial year.