Budget 2022: Agriculture: Focus on Natural Farming and Farmer’s Welfare

Despite the unprecedented global pandemic, India, as a part of its economic recovery was able to successfully meet the increased global demands in the second half of 2020. The Indian agricultural sector was among the few segments that managed to remain robust even amidst the uncertainties of the pandemic. Keeping in mind that agriculture is a fundamental part of India’s recovery process and a crucial sector of the Indian economy, the Union Budget 2022, indicates the government’s resolve to further boost the sector. The government looks at agriculture as an important part of its growth under the pillar of “Inclusive Development”. 

In the current scenario, where the country is taking all the possible measures to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has announced some significant measures for the agricultural sector that will pave the way for the economic revival for the farmers. 
The government will provide INR 2.37 lakh crore as direct payment of Minimum Support Price (MSP) to farmers' accounts, in addition to this the procurement of wheat in Rabi 2021-22 and the estimated procurement of paddy in Kharif 2021-22 will cover 1208 lakh metric tonnes of wheat and paddy from 163 lakh farmers. The government will also implement the Ken-Betwa link worth INR 44,605 crore to provide irrigation of over 9 lakh hectares of farmers land providing irrigation, farming & livelihood facilities to farmers and local population. 

Recently, chemical-free agriculture, often known as organic agriculture, has been gaining ground in India. The phrases 'organic' and 'natural' farming are often used interchangeably. When the majority of agricultural inputs are controlled within the farm system or from neighbouring local ecosystems, the phrase "natural farming" is frequently used. The government is all set to further it’s aim of moving towards natural and chemical-free farming throughout the country with a special focus on farmer’s lands in five kilometre wide corridor along the river ganga.  

The announced budget appears to be millet centred to a huge extent. Interestingly, the year 2023 has been announced as the international year of millets. In the spirit of the same, the government would provide support for post-harvest value addition, enhancing consumption and branding of millet products both nationally and internationally, thus, increasing the consumption of Indian millet products in the global market. The focus on millets is essential to enable sustained agriculture production and consumption. Further, to reduce India’s dependence on import of oilseeds, the government will also come up with a rationalised and comprehensive scheme to increase domestic production of oilseeds. 

As agriculture remains the backbone of the rural economy in India, the sector is always the key spotlight in the Union Budget. The government initiatives discussed above would go a long way in ensuring that sector continues to contribute significantly to India’s growth story.