Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said his government was spending ₹6.5 lakh crore per year for the agriculture sector and farmers’ welfare, and there could be no guarantee bigger than this. He also sought cooperative sector support in creating world’s biggest grain storage system and making the country self-reliant in edible oils.

Inaugurating the 17th Indian Cooperative Congress, Modi highlighted the work done by the government since 2014 and said that the agriculture budget of the UPA government’s last five years (2009-14) was less tha ₹90,000 crore as against ₹2.5 lakh crore already disbursed to farmers during four years (of NDA government between 2019 and 2023)) under only one scheme -- PM Kisan.

In the last nine years, Modi said more than ₹15 lakh crore had been given to farmers by procuring their produce on minimum support price (MSP), while another ₹10 lakh crore has been spent on fertilizer subsidy.

“The government is making sure that every farmer in the country receives around ₹50,000 every year in some way or the other,” Modi said.

He also said: “In the BJP government, farmers are guaranteed to get ₹50,000 every year in different ways. This is Modi’s guarantee,” he said and added that he was only stating what his government has done and not just talking about ‘promises’.

In the recently held Karnataka assembly election, it has been reported widely that the Congress party won on the “five guarantees” it promised people. The success model is replicated in Madhya Pradesh with a similar promise for voters.

Storage scheme

Addressing the gathering of cooperators in New Delhi, Modi also said that considering the lack of storage facilities has led to a major challenge to food security for a long time, the Central government has already announced the world’s biggest storage scheme. There is a plan to create 700 lakh tonnes (lt) storage capacity in the next five years, whereas 1,400 lt have been created in many decades.

He appealed the cooperative sector to make the scheme successful, as the country can store less than 50 per cent of the cereals produced. He informed that more than ₹40,000 crore had already been invested since the rollout of the ₹1-lakh-crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) three years back. “A big portion of this investment is from PACs and there is a need for more efforts from the cooperatives in the creation of farm-gate infrastructure,” Modi said.

According to the AIF dashboard, 31,268 projects have been sanctioned whose project costs are valued at ₹41,476 crore, for which ₹24,459 crore has been sanctioned under AIF and ₹14,939 crore have been disbursed, so far. Out of the total amount sanctioned, the approval for the cooperative sector is ₹3,142 crore (13 per cent), and only ₹602 crore have been sanctioned.

The Prime Minister expressed confidence that cooperatives will become a powerful medium of the country’s economic source in the new India. He also said that cooperatives should become the carrier of social policy and national policy instead of politics.

Food imports

On the issue of import of the food items by India, he appealed to the cooperative sector to make the country Atmanirbhar (self-sufficient) in oilseeds so that there is no import of cooking oil is required. He pointed out that as high as ₹2.5 lakh crore worth of food items are imported annually, which can be realised by domestic farmers.

During the two-day event, organised by the National Cooperative Union of India, the stakeholders will discuss various trends in the cooperative movement, showcase best practices being adopted, deliberate challenges being faced and chalk out future policy action for the growth of India’s cooperative movement.