The government’s actions on behalf of farmers during the lockdown are sufficient to cope with the impact of COVID-19, according to Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

Flagship schemes for crop insurance and income support already provide enough support, Mr. Tomar told mediapersons on Wednesday, when asked about the need for a relief package for farmers. In fact, he insisted that the Centre’s agenda of doubling farmers’ income by 2022 still held true.

Farm growth

Think tank NITI Aayog also provided a rosy picture of the agriculture sector, with member Ramesh Chand saying it is likely to see a near-normal growth rate of at least 3% in 2020-21, despite the COVID-19 crisis. The farm sector grew at a rate of 3.7% in the last fiscal year.

Despite the shutdown of large parts of the industrial and services sectors, agricultural growth will ensure that the Indian economy does not shrink this year, Dr. Chand said.

He predicted that at least 0.5% GDP growth would come from agriculture alone, refuting international predictions of a negative GDP growth rate.

Dr. Chand cited the forecast of a normal monsoon and reports of reservoirs having water at levels 40-60% higher than usual among the reasons for his optimism. Fertilizer and seed sales have been 5% and 20% higher than usual in the first four months of this year, he claimed, adding that reports suggested that farmers are getting higher mandi prices for major commodities, including wheat, gram, rapeseed, mustard and staple vegetables.

News Source: The Hindu


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