New Delhi, Apr 8 : Recognising that farmers’ issues have been brought to the centre-stage by opposition parties, the BJP on Monday pledged to ``empower farmers through policies’’ in its `sankalp patra’ released here by Manifesto Committee Chairman Rajnath Singh in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Party President Amit Shah and senior party leaders.
Without yielding to the demand for waiver of outstanding agriculture loans, the party announced payment of pension to the senior farmers amongst the small and marginal farmers and short-term interest-free loan of up to Rs one lakh taken on Kisan Credit Card, on timely return of the principal amount, if it is voted to power.
Small and marginal farmers are those who have a landholding of up to two hectares and form bulk of the farming community.
While reiterating its goal of `doubling farmers income’ by 2022, the party pledged Rs 25 lakh crore for agri-rural sector with focus on reducing input costs, better irrigation facilities and better markets.
It announced expansion of its recently-announced Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojna to cover all farmers including progressive and big farmers. Thus even farmers who have a land holding of up to 100 acres will benefit from the scheme. This is to counter the minimum income support scheme announced by the Congress in its manifesto.
Under the scheme announced in the February budget, the government extends Rs 6000 per year in three instalments to state government-identified farmers as income support. So far, the scheme, restricted to small and marginal farmers, was at a budgeted cost of Rs 75,000 crore annually.
Addressing the issue of compulsory enrolment of farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna, the BJP has now announced that the scheme will be made voluntary.
The Congress, on the other hand, had criticised the scheme in its recently-released manifesto and said they will review it if voted to power.
The party promised to complete remaining 68 water projects by December 2019 if voted to power and further expand the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna in definite time-frame.
It pledged to bring one crore hectare of agriculture land under micro-irrigation.
The party will enhance the formation of Farmer-Producer organizations to 10,000 by 2022 to ensure economies of scale for farmers regarding access to inputs and markets. It will also strive to reduce agriculture imports and institute a predictable export and import policy.
The party said that it ensure availability of quality seeds to farmers ``at affordable’’ rates.
As in pulses, it proposes to set up an Oilseeds Mission to achieve self-sufficiency in oilseeds and other agri-products.
To enable farmers to store agriculture produce near his/her village, a new Village Storage Scheme of agri-produce against which farmers will be able to get loans at cheaper rates, much as in the case of warehouse receipts.
It also promised better development of agri-allied sectors including rainfed areas and establishment of a National Warehousing Grid along National Highways for better linkages.
The party reinforced its commitment to organic farming by promising in additional 20 lakh hectares in five years and linking `goshalas’ to them. An e-commerce portal will bring organic produce to consumers.
The party will strive to converge agriculture and technology especially in promotion of agri-implements, market prices, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain Technology and precision agriculture.
It will encourage solar farming to make `food provider’ into `energy provider’.
And importantly, the party pledged to digitize land records in mission mode. (UNI)