According to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the government plans to encourage Kisan Drones, chemical-free natural farming, and public-private partnerships for digital and high-tech services provided to farmers across the country during the fiscal year 2022-23.
According to Sitharaman, inclusive development is one of the four goals of the government going forward. Within the inclusive development initiative, the government will promote the use of ‘Kisan Drones’ for crop assessment, land record digitisation, and insecticide spraying. The finance minister further said that the government will facilitate the creation of a fund with blended capital raised through the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to finance agri-startups and rural enterprises. She added that agricultural and rural enterprises that are relevant to the value chain of farm produce will benefit from this program.
The activities of these start-ups will supposedly include inter-area support for farmer-producer organisations (FPOs), machinery for farmers to rent at the farm level and technology including invitees. Furthermore, the finance minister said that the government will promote chemical-free organic farming throughout the country with a focus on farmers’ lands in five-kilometre wide corridors along the Ganga river in the first phase.
In order to reduce the country’s dependence on imported edible oil, Sitharman said that the government is working on a rationalised and comprehensive plan to promote the domestic production of oilseeds. She informed that the government will establish a PPP scheme that will involve public sector research and extension institutes, as well as private agri-tech businesses and partners in agri value chains to deliver digital and high-tech services to farmers. She added that states will be urged to revise modules at agricultural universities so they can address the needs of natural zero budget and organic farming, modern agriculture, value addition, and management.
The finance minister said that the government will procure wheat and paddy at the minimum support price (MSP) from 163 lakh farmers during 2022-23. She said that the MSP value will be paid directly to their accounts in the amount of Rs 2.37 lakh crores. Keeping in mind that 2023 has been designated as the International Year of Millets, Sitharaman announced that the government will provide post-harvest assistance to increase the consumption of millet products within the country.
She also stated that the government will be enacting policies and making the necessary legislative changes to encourage agroforestry and private forestry. Furthermore, farmers from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes who choose to engage in agroforestry will receive financial assistance.