Probably reserved for the vote on account occasion next year, finance minister did not announce any hike in the PM-Kisan instalment which disappointed farmers. However, announcements on digital agriculture infrastructure and a new Agriculture Accelerative Fund along with decentralised warehousing by cooperatives and Rs 6,000 crore target investment in fisheries sector have laid an emphasis on raising farmers’ income as well as to bring in new technologies to improve yield.

RSS-backed Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) had demanded an increase from current Rs 6,000/year under PM-Kisan which created a euphoria among farmers as happening in near future. “Farmers after serving the country during Covid outbreak were expecting some solution to their problems in the Budget in terms of steps like raising PM-Kisan incentive,” said Mohini Mohan Mishra, general secretary, BKS.

He said BKS expects the government to reconsider the demand to make agri inputs free of GST and increase PM-Kisan while those could be announced during Budget reply. The farmer outfit has welcomed the new initiatives on organic/natural farming, Shri Anna, GOBARDhan and digital public infrastructure and termed those as long-term result oriented schemes.

Announcing a slew of measures for the farm sector, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that a new sub-scheme for Prime Minister Matsya Sampada Yojana will be launched with a targeted investment of Rs 6,000 crore to expand the fisheries market and increase value chain efficiency. She also said Rs 2,200 crore would be allocated (over a period) to provide disease free quality planting material for high value horticulture crop.

Other announcements include cluster-based approach under public private partnership (PPP) for input supplies, extension services and market linkages in extra long staple cotton, Hyderabad-based Indian Institute of Millet Research as a centre of excellence and setting up massive decentralised storage capacity in the cooperative sector.

Sitharaman also said agriculture credit target has been enhanced to Rs 20 lakh crore for 2023-24 from Rs 18.5 lakh crore in current fiscal with focus on dairy, fisheries and animal husbandry.

Pradhan Mantri Programme for Restoration, Awareness, Nourishment and Amelioration of Mother Earth (PM-PRANAM) was announced for adoption of natural farming, with a target to cover 1 crore farmers in next three years for which a network of 10,000 Bio-Input Resource Centres and with an investment of Rs 10,000 crore, as many as 500 compressed biogas plants would be set up.