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Agriculture budget doubled to help double farm income by 2022: PM Modi

Reaching out to farmers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today showcased his government's "unprecedented" work in the agriculture sector, including doubling of the budget to Rs 2.12 lakh crore.

Modi also reiterated that his government is working to double farm income by 2022.

Continuing his outreach programme of direct interaction with beneficiaries of his pet schemes, Modi spoke to farmers from over 600 districts via video-conferencing, highlighting the government interventions right from seeds to market that is aimed at addressing farm distress.

The government, through an extensive and balanced policy, is aiming to provide inputs like quality seeds, fertilisers, water and electricity as well as markets for increasing farmers' income, he said.

To achieve this target, he said the four cornerstones of the government policy are cutting input cost, fair price for the crop, preventing post-harvest losses and creating alternate sources of income.

Modi said in the Budget for 2018-19 fiscal, the government announced that the minimum support price (MSP) for all crops will be fixed at least 1.5 times the cost of production. He also listed out all the costs that will be included while fixing the MSP.

"Our effort is to provide farmers assistance at all stage of agriculture -- at the time of sowing, after sowing and at the time of harvesting," he said, adding the policy interventions are being planned to help farmers right from seeds to markets.

First, soil health cards are being provided to help farmers better understand soil nutrient status of his/her holding and advice them on the dosage of fertilisers.

Thereafter, loans are being made available to farmers to help them procure good quality seeds, he said, adding neem coating of urea has ensured that black-marketing of the crop nutrient is stopped and farmers get it without any problem.

To ensure farmers get the right price for their crops, Modi said an online platform e-NAM has been started to eliminate middlemen. As many as 22,000 rural markets are also being linked to wholesale mandis.

The government is also giving special attention to allied sectors like fisheries, dairy and bee-keeping to boost farmers income, he added.

The Prime Minister said farmers should get full credit for ensuring the country's food security but rued that "from the beginning, farmers were left to fend for themselves" which resulted in their shrinking prosperity.

Modi highlighted the various initiatives launched by the government in the last four years such as soil health cards, new crop insurance scheme, irrigation programme and e-NAM, among others.

Under Prime Minister Krishi Sinchaee Yojna, Modi said about 100 projects are being completed so that water reaches all agriculture fields. The government is promoting drip irrigation to achieve "per drop more crop" and reduce input cost.

Modi said farmers can increase their income by value-addition of farm produce.

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