September 27, 2023

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said his government is annually spending over Rs 6.5 lakh crore for the agriculture sector and farmers and asserted that the Centre is delivering rather than just talking about promises, in an apparent dig at the Congress party over poll guarantees.

Addressing the 17th Indian Cooperative Congress here, the Prime Minister asked cooperatives to become carriers of social and national policy instead of politics. He asked them to become a model of transparency and corruption-free governance, and adopt digital tools in a big way.

Mr. Modi called upon cooperatives to work towards increasing production of oilseeds and pulses, and help the country become self-reliant in cooking oils.

Speaking at the event, the Prime Minister highlighted achievements of his government in the last nine years in the field of agriculture and related sectors.

Mr. Modi said the government has ensured supply of fertilisers at cheaper rates compared to other countries, bought large quantities of grains at minimum support price (MSP) and paid huge amount directly into bank accounts of farmers under PM-KISAN scheme.

“On an average, the government is spending more than Rs 6.5 lakh crore yearly on agriculture and farmers,” Mr. Modi said.

“The government is making sure that every farmer in the country receives around ₹50,000 every year in some way or the other. This means, under the BJP government at the Centre, there is a guarantee that every farmer gets ₹50,000 in various forms,” he asserted.

Ye Modi ki guarantee hai. Aur maine jo kiya hai, woh bata raha hoon, vaade nahi bata raha hoon,” the Prime Minister said.

Elaborating, Mr. Modi said more than ₹15 lakh crore have been given to farmers in the last nine years through procurement of their produce at MSP.

The government has spent ₹10 lakh crore towards fertilizer subsidy in the last nine years to ensure that farmers get crop nutrients at reasonable price despite rise in global rates, he said, and quipped “isse badi guarantee kya hoti hai, bhai”.

Mr. Modi highlighted that farmers are getting a bag of urea at around ₹270, which is much lower than ₹720 in Bangladesh, ₹800 in Pakistan, ₹2,100 in China and more than ₹3,000 in America.

“This shows what a guarantee looks like and what massive efforts are needed to change the lives of farmers,” he said.

In the last four years, the Prime Minister said ₹2.5 lakh crore have been sent directly to bank accounts of farmers under PM KISAN scheme. Under PM-KISAN, farmers get ₹6,000 annually.

“You can guess how big this amount is from the fact that the total agricultural budget for the five years before 2014 was less than ₹90,000 crore,” Mr. Modi said.

He also informed about the recent package of ₹3.7 lakh crore for the fertiliser sector as well as increase in fair and remunerative price (FRP) for sugarcane farmers at ₹315 per quintal.

Mr. Modi highlighted contributions of dairy cooperatives in making India the world’s leading milk producer and the role of cooperatives in making India one of the top sugar-producing countries in the world.

He underlined that cooperatives have become a huge support system for small farmers in many parts of the country.

Mr. Modi said the government has decided to strengthen the cooperative sector to achieve the goal of becoming a developed nation.

He highlighted that it was the first time that a separate ministry was formed and a budget was allocated for cooperatives.

Now, Mr. Modi said, cooperatives are being presented with a platform exactly like that of the corporate sector.

The prime minister talked about the measures to strengthen cooperative societies and mentioned the reduction in tax rates. He highlighted the measures taken to strengthen cooperative banks.

Mr. Modi noted that through the Digital India campaign, the government increased transparency and ensured benefits for the beneficiaries.

“Today, the poorest of the poor believe that corruption and nepotism have been eliminated in the upper echelons,” he added.

Mr. Modi stressed that the cooperative sector should become a “model of transparency and corruption-free governance”. For this, digital systems should be promoted in the cooperative sector.

“India is known in the world for its digital transactions”, the Prime Minister remarked as he urged cooperative societies and banks to stay ahead when it comes to digital transactions. He said it will increase transparency and efficiency in the market while also enabling better competition.

Underlining that the main cooperative societies of the primary level or PACS will become a model for transparency, Modi said that the computerization of more than 60,000 PACS has already taken place.

He stressed that cooperatives should make full use of the technology available to them and that the nation will hugely benefit from the acceptance of core banking and digital transactions by cooperative societies.

Referring to the ever-increasing record exports, the prime minister asked cooperatives to also contribute in this regard.

He elaborated on the measures taken to meet the challenges of sugarcane farmers. Sugar mills were given a package of ₹20,000 crore for clearing farmers’ dues.

Ethanol blending of petrol was prioritized and ethanol worth ₹70,000 crore was purchased from sugar mills in the last nine years, he said.

The Prime Minister noted that that food security should not be limited to wheat and rice and pointed out that India spends roughly ₹2-2.5 lakh crore on import of edible oil, pulses, fish feed and processed food etc.

He urged farmers and cooperatives to work in this direction and make the nation Atmanirbhar in production of edible oil.

Mr. Modi exuded confidence that cooperatives will become a powerful medium of the country’s economic source in the new India.

He emphasised the need to build villages that will become self-sufficient by following the cooperative model.

Mr. Modi suggested improving cooperation among cooperatives and said that cooperatives should become the carrier of social policy and national policy instead of politics.

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